Step 2 – File a missing person report

step2Contrary to what many think they learned through television and movies, there is no set 24 hour or 48 hour waiting period for a missing report to be filed with a local law enforcement agency. Once you have sufficient reason to believe they are in fact missing, contact your local law enforcement agency to make a missing persons report. Some departments may have policies in place that set time limits on reporting and you may be asked to wait a sufficient amount of time (24 – 72 hours) before they will take your report. This should NOT apply to missing juveniles, missing elderly persons or persons suspected to be a victim of foul play

If the missing person is vulnerable (i.e., under 18 years of age, over 65 years of age, suffering from physical or mental illness, depressed/suicidal or the disappearance is completely out of character) report the disappearance to police immediately if your suspicions are aroused. It’s never too soon in these instances and time may be of the essence. This could also include someone on life-saving medication who has not taken their medicine with them. You can contact police, the local media, and the resources listed for your state on this page, to ask for help in publicizing their story. REMEMBER … it’s never too soon.

Keep in mind, it is NOT illegal for an adult to voluntarily go missing. The police have certain rules and regulations to protect privacy in case this is the situation. Don’t get frustrated by the police sticking to their guidelines; remember they are in place for a reason.

Law enforcement agencies generally require the same information when taking a missing person report.  When you contact law enforcement, you should be prepared to answer at least, the following questions to expedite the processing of the report:

  • Name (First, Middle, Last)
  • Gender
  • Race
  • Place of Birth
  • Date of Birth
  • Height
  • Weight
  • Eye Color
  • Hair Color
  • Skin Tone
  • Social Security Number
  • Scars, Marks, Tattoos and other Characteristics
  • Is the missing person a runaway, abducted by a stranger, abducted by a non-custodial parent?
  • Drivers License Number, State of issue and year
  • Vehicle information:
    • License Plate Number and State of Issue
    • Year of Vehicle
    • Type of Vehicle
    • Make of Vehicle
    • Model of Vehicle
    • Color of Vehicle
  • Circumstances leading up to the person going missing

Law enforcement may request your assistance in getting bank records, social media account information and cell phone records for your missing person as well.


Go to the next step

  1. Call Around
  2. File a Missing Person Report
  3. Share the Information
  4. Be Proactive
  5. Once Located, Inform Law Enforcement