Reporting a missing person and the process to find them

Published: May. 3, 2017 at 11:13 AM EDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) – With a growing number of people being reported missing lately in our area, you may be wondering how to report someone missing or what the process may be in order to find them.

Report the missing person immediately

One important thing to always remember is to report the missing person immediately.


The sooner you report them missing, the better chance you have of finding them and finding them alive.

You’ll want to

file a missing person’s report

through your local Sheriff’s Office or Public Safety agency. According to FindLaw, police need as complete a description as possible to locate a missing person.

Here’s a list of information that you need to provide the police when you file your report:

- Two or three current or most recent photos of the person

- Nicknames or aliases of the person

- Physical description that includes height, weight, age, hair color, eye color, and build.

- List of possessions the person might be carrying, such as jewelry, glasses, contact lenses, accessories, a purse, a wallet, ID cards, etc.

- List of scars, tattoos, and other identifying marks

- List of medications the person was taking, any allergies they may have, handicaps, or other medical conditions.

- List of relatives or friends of the missing person, along with their contact information

- A list of places the person frequents

- A description of the person’s car or a different mode of transportation

- A description of the situation surrounding the person’s disappearance, if applicable.

Investigators may even need more information including but not limited to their birthdate or their social security number.

Understand the limits of what police can do, especially if the missing person is an adult. It’s not illegal for a person to go missing.

Expedited searches will be conducted if there is a high risk the person is in danger, such instances include:

- A very young child is missing

- A person who is mentally or physically impaired is missing

- Someone who is in need of medical attention is missing

- Victim of a crime or other foul play is missing

FindLaw states that once police have all the facts about a potential disappearance, they will be better equipped to respond appropriately.

What else do I do?

Make sure you keep records of the missing person’s report and obtain a case number. Write down the name of the person in charge of your case so you can contact them for a follow up.

You can also contact other organizations that help assist in the search for missing persons. The US Department of Justice operates the National Missing and Unidentified Persons System. It allows you to upload information about a missing person so law enforcement officials, agencies, and individuals across the country can aid in your search.

You can also register with specific missing person’s databases that are geared toward specific groups such as children and those who have mental illnesses. These databases also provide you to free services and resources that can aid in your search.

The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children

provides services for families of children who are missing. Call


(1-800-843-5678) or visit them below:

The National Alliance on Mental Illness

provides services for families of people with mental illnesses who are missing. Call


or visit them below:

How to search for the person on your own

When you’ve contacted all of the other resources and law enforcement to help find the missing person, you can also look for the person on your own. Contact the person’s friends and acquaintances, ask when they last saw him or her, call anyone who had regular contact with the person. Keep a log of the people you spoke to as well, encourage them to call you back, and report your new findings to the police department.

You can also check with local hospitals, asking for the missing person by name, or ask if they have any unidentified people in their care who might resemble your missing person. In tragic cases or to rule out the possibility, you can also contact the coroner or medical examiner in your community.

You should also check your local jails, in case the missing person had an encounter with law enforcement and was arrested. Check to see if the missing person was incarcerated, you should be able to check online using “inmate locator” tools on most law enforcement websites.

Check their social media to gain information about what led up to their disappearance, or to see if they’ve been active at all. Print out correspondence and activity that seems suspicious and report any suspicious activity you see to the police.

You can also put up fliers with a picture and description of the missing person, hanging them up in prominent locations around town or around your neighborhood. Include a recent photograph, the person’s age, a physical description, the date he/she went missing, and a phone number.

Ask people to spread the word about the missing person on social media. Post their picture and a description. The more people that become aware, the better chances of finding them.

Here at News 12 NBC 26, we only report missing people if the Sheriff’s Office releases the information to us to air. Please make sure the Sheriff’s Department releases the information to the media, and we can help aid in the search.

You can also contact a private investigator to help you find the person, if you have the money.

What do I do once the missing person is found?

If the person you filed a missing person’s report on turns up on their own, inform the police so they can call off their search. If they find a missing person whose actions were voluntary, they might not disclose where the person is unless the person gives permission.

FindLaw states that a missing person’s report for an adult doesn’t entitle you to know where they are, but only if they are safe.

Hopefully, the person you report missing is found safe and sound, but investigators always want you to be prepared for any possibility, including unfortunate ones.