Facts & Myths about Missing Persons.
Thousands of American's are reported missing each year in the United States. Here in Las Vegas, an average of 5-7 adult persons are reported missing each day, and more than 200 a month.
Myths still prevail that you must wait up to 72 hours before reporting any person missing. The fact is, there is no waiting period to report a person missing to police. There are also myths that all adult missing persons are the victims of kidnaping, murders or some other criminal act.
The fact is that the vast majority of reported missing persons are found or voluntarily return home within 48-72 hours after being reported.
There are many reasons why a person voluntarily disappears including mental illness, depression, substance abuse, credit problems, abusive relationships, marital discord, and "foul play." The fact is, 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. Because this behavior is not a crime, law enforcement is limited on how they conduct these type investigations. When facts and circumstances indicate a strong possibility of foul play or the disappearance is the result of a criminal act, police will investigate.
How can you file a Missing Persons Report with the LVMPD?
You can go to any LVMPD area command or make a telephonic report by calling our local non-emergency telephone number (702-828-3111). Be prepared to give information on the missing person, including birth date or age, physical descriptions, and most importantly, any medical information. Police will need to know the circumstances surrounding the disappearance and the last location where the missing person had been seen or known to be at. Keep a list of known associates and telephone numbers of persons who know the missing person. You also can check with area hospitals, medical clinics, or adult detention centers to see if the missing person has been brought to one of these facilities. Local homeless shelter can also be contacted.
When an adult person has been reported missing to police, he or she is entered into the local computerized system known as "SCOPE." This will not give them a criminal record, but may assist police in finding the missing person.
The investigation by police....
Because 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 investigate.
In cases of "foul play" or "endangerment," the police can use the National Crime Information Center's Missing Persons File to assist in locating any missing person. Because of strict standards, not every missing person can be included in this file. Generally speaking, the investigator assigned to the case will make this determination.
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 that person's consent.
What should I do if the missing person calls me or returns?
If the Missing Person returns on his or her own ...
There is the strong possibility 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 Missing Persons Detail weekdays (8 a.m.- 4 p.m.) at (702) 828-2907, or after-hours and weekends at (702) 828-3111.
Remember, 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.
What if they never return?
The Prolonged Investigation ...
Most missing persons cases are solved within a few days or weeks. However, there are times when cases go several months or even years. You may want to enlist the services of a private investigator to assist you in your search.
Detectives assigned to the Missing Persons Detail can assist private investigators on behalf of families in their search for missing persons.
You may want to consider the use of posters to aid in the search. If you have posters made up, contact the detective assigned to your case. The department has a list of shelters and other agencies that will assist in distributing the posters.
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 is automatically closed out in 30 days in all missing adult cases.
What can I do....?
You have several alternatives:
1. 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 person's last known address.
2. Another option would be to contact the Salvation Army, which has a Missing Persons Locator Program.
3. A final alternative would be to engage the services of a private investigator.