The Missing Persons Unit (MPU) investigates approximately 3200 adult Missing Person (M/P) reports annually, or 250 to 300 reports per month. Contrary to public belief, federal law prohibits the observance of a waiting period before accepting a M/P report.
Approximately 70% of all reported missing persons are found or voluntarily return within 48 to 72 hours. Not all adult missing persons are the victims of kidnapping, murders, or some other criminal act.
There are a variety of reasons why a person voluntarily disappears including mental illness, depression, substance abuse, credit problems, abusive relationships, or marital discord. California law classifies M/P reports as “non-criminal”; however, they take investigative precedence over crimes involving property, thus establishing a “due diligence” responsibility on the part of the adult MPU.
Being a “voluntary” missing person is not a crime. Any adult person can simply walk away, and choose to ignore family, friends, associates and employers. Since this type of behavior is not “criminal”, law enforcement is limited on how they conduct these types of investigations. When facts and circumstances indicate a strong possibility of “foul-play”, or the disappearance is the result of a criminal act, the investigation will continue along such a course.
HOW CAN YOU FILE A MISSING PERSON REPORT WITH THE LAPD?
You can go to any LAPD Area station near where the missing person resides, or make a telephonic report by calling the local non-emergency telephone number of the Area station in the jurisdiction in which the missing person is a resident. Be prepared to provide information on the missing person, including birth date or age, physical descriptions, and most importantly, any medical information. Police will also need to know the circumstances surrounding the disappearance and the last location where the missing person had been seen or was known to be. Also provide any known associates and telephone numbers of persons who know the missing person. Other helpful information that may be provided: cell phone numbers, e-mail addresses, or social network information. When an adult person has been reported missing to police, he or she is entered into a nationwide database; this will assist other law enforcement agencies in finding the missing person.
Here’s what you can do….
*Check with local area hospitals.
*Check with local homeless shelters.
*Check with the Los Angeles County Sheriff “Inmate Locator” web-site.
*Check with the Los Angeles County Coroner web-site.
*Check with the Los Angeles County Morgue web-site.
Since being a missing person is not a crime, police are given a very limited role while conducting these types of investigations. As a general rule, all people have a right to be left alone, and police intrusion into their lives must be minimal. However, in cases where “foul-play” exists, police can investigate just like any other criminal act. Also, in cases where the missing person is “endangered” due to medical problems, or life-threatening situations, police will take appropriate investigative measures.
Once the missing person is found by police, the Department will notify the person who made the report. However, police cannot disclose the location or whereabouts of the missing person without his or her consent.
WHAT SHOULD I DO IF THE MISSING PERSON CALLS ME OR RETURNS?
If the missing person returns on his or her own…..
It is highly likely the missing person will return on his or her own, or contact family and friends. If this occurs, you must notify the police as soon as possible. You can call the adult Missing Persons Unit, weekdays (7am to 5pm), at 213.996.1800. For after hours, or on the weekends, please leave a message.
Please keep in mind, the missing person may choose not to disclose his or her whereabouts to you, or the circumstances of his or her disappearance. If the person chooses to do so, listen carefully, show concern, and offer to seek professional assistance if they show signs of depression or need medical attention. Many people who voluntarily disappear do so because of stress or substance abuse. There may be a need for professional help or family counseling. Check for appropriate social services through Los Angeles County.
WHAT IF THEY NEVER RETURN?
The “extended” investigation….
The majority of missing person cases are solved within a few days or weeks. However, there are times when investigations may go on for several months or even years. In such situations, you may want to enlist the services of a private investigator to assist in your search. The California Department of Justice web-site may offer guidance in selecting a reputable private investigator.
You may want to consider the use of posters to aid in the search. If you have posters made up, please advise the detective assigned to your case.
If you should change addresses or telephone numbers, please notify the detective assigned to your case. If you fail to keep in contact or move, the case may be closed out.
WHAT CAN I DO…..?
You have several alternatives:
1.) Social Security Administration Office in your area.
If you have a Social Security Number for the person you are looking for, you may write a letter to the missing person, put it in an envelope with his or her name on it. Write another letter to the Social Security Administration Office explaining that you are looking for this person. Be sure to include the Social Security Number of the missing person in this letter. Place both letters in an envelope to the Social Security Administration Office and ask that the enclosed letter be forwarded to the missing person’s last known address.
2.) Another option would be to contact the Salvation Army, which has a Missing Persons Locator Program.
3.) As previously mentioned, engage the services of a “reputable” private investigator.