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Your Toolkit For A Successful Missing Persons Investigation

  • November 06, 2006
  • by PInow Staff

While no family wants to consider what may happen if a loved one goes missing, knowing what to do is a must. Being prepared greatly increases the chances that the missing person will be returned quickly and safely.

When a loved one goes missing, panic as well as worry sets in. Although no one wants to think about the possibility of having a loved one go missing, if the worst does happen, being prepared can drastically improve the chances of finding the missing person quickly. For parents especially, having a toolkit is essential for peace of mind. Knowing what to do and where to turn when the worst happens is imperative. In cases where a loved one has Alzheimers or another condition that can mean they can get lost easily, being prepared only makes sense.

If A Loved One Goes Missing

If a loved one goes missing, contact the police. Many law enforcement agencies have policies about handling missing persons cases. Some agencies do not consider a person missing until a specific amount of time has passed. It can be extremely upsetting to hear that a loved one is not considered missing and that police can do nothing, but staying calm and making that initial phone call to the authorities is a must. It gets the process of filing a missing persons report started. Calling the police also ensures that if the authorities do encounter any information about the missing person, they can use that information right away.

If a loved one goes missing, it is also important to gather as much information as possible. The last known location and the last person to speak to the missing person can be important clues for authorities. Information about what the person was last wearing can also be useful. Gathering together personal effects, phone numbers of friends, and recent photographs can all help trace a missing person.

Many families decide to hire a private investigator if a missing persons case is not resolved quickly. A professional investigator can use surveillance and other methods to locate people. An investigator may be able to devote more time to a specific case than the local law enforcement professionals and may be more willing to work closely with families to find missing persons.

What You Should Have In a Missing Persons Kit to Give To Authorities

Gathering or already having specific items can really help locate missing family members fast. Parents with children and families who have persons at risk should gather the following:

  • Basic information. Information about a persons habits, height, weight, eye color and other physical characteristics are important for all people locate cases.

  • Recent videos and photographs. While videos are best, high-quality photos are also important in helping authorities identify missing persons. In the Elizabeth Smart case, it was pictures of the girl that led to her safe return home. Having photos and videos to offer to the media, especially, can be useful.

  • Personal history. Any past medical problems or similar situations should be shared with authorities.

  • Identifying characteristics. Any tattoos, body piercings, or medical alert bracelets should be described to authorities. If a loved one has a condition that may allow them to wander off, providing that family member with a medical alert bracelet can be important, as it can tell authorities that the person needs help even before a missing persons report is filed.

  • Media contacts. Unfortunately, media coverage can determine the success of a missing persons case. The recent case of Michelle Gardner-Quinn in Vermont got extensive media coverage, meaning that many more people were aware of the crime. In the Elizabeth Smart case, national coverage eventually broke the case when the girl was spotted by someone who had seen the media reports on the girls abduction. That tip led to Smarts return home.

  • Personal information. Information about where a person may turn can provide important leads. Having access to someones phone list, cell phone number (investigators can trace calls made to and from the phone) and planner can all tell authorities where a person is most likely to go.

Why Hiring A Private Investigator Makes Sense

While local law enforcement is the first place families should call, police enforcement agencies only look for missing persons in specific cases. In many cities, police agencies have very limited resources to spend on missing persons cases. Unfortunately, it often seems that police officers often look for missing persons who have the most media attention. For all these reasons, many families choose to hire a private investigator with person locate experience when a family member goes missing. An investigator is often willing to get involved in a case right away. A professional investigator also lets you remain involved in the case, and will keep looking until you say otherwise.

Finding a qualified, experienced investigator is as simple as consulting the Worldwide Directory of Private Investigators. With the Worldwide Directory of Private Investigators, anyone can find a professional investigator who can help.

About ( is a Worldwide Directory of Private Investigators that enables law firms, corporations and the general public to find investigators anywhere. strives to be the most trusted resource on the web to locate qualified investigators. All investigators listed on are pre-screened and must meet specific listing requirements. was developed by the team that brought you the Process Servers Directory (

Visit to find investigators who can help with all your investigation needs.

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