Missing Persons Investigations
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A missing persons investigation from a private investigator’s perspective is identifying the circumstances surrounding a person that cannot be found. Since 2007, the FBI National Crime Information Center (NCIC) has reported over 600,000 entries annually. As of the end of 2014, there were still 84,924 active missing person records.
It is worth noting that the law enforcement definition of missing persons is often restrictive and are subject to requirements necessary to meet the legal definition of a missing person. For example, in order for an Amber Alert to be activated, law enforcement must confirm an abduction prior to issuing the alert, and age requirements must be satisfied. However, from a private investigator’s perspective, missing persons extends to anyone that can’t be found. There is a much broader definition that private investigators apply to missing persons than law enforcement. Obviously, this isn’t a criticism of our police departments, in fact we believe they do an amazing job. In fact, most jurisdictions have passed laws prohibiting police departments from establishing waiting periods to take a missing person’s report. That being said, the truth of the matter is that most law enforcement agencies aren’t going to allocate significant resources to finding an adult who voluntarily cannot be found. This is where private investigators come into play.
People hire private investigators to find missing persons, even those not legally classified as missing persons, for a number of reasons. They include:
- To locate lost family members who have disappeared and want to reconnect
- To work cooperatively with law enforcement in an active missing persons case
- To help families find a missing loved one that is not legally considered missing by law enforcement
- To find debtors, heirs, or witnesses
- To help families on missing persons cases that have gone cold or have been closed by law enforcement
- To locate runaways, endangered or otherwise
There are a number of tools and methods at the disposal of the professional private investigator in locating missing persons, and a professional private investigator will have more resources available to dedicate to your missing persons investigation. Whether it is using social media, proprietary databases, canvassing neighborhoods, interviewing potential witnesses, or other legal investigative techniques, the professional private investigator can be invaluable in bringing a missing person investigation to a resolution.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Christopher Kaszak is a partner at Brown, Kaszak, & Associates, a licensed private investigations firm in several states. He is a 22-year industry veteran and has conducted numerous criminal and civil investigations during his tenure in law enforcement and in the private sector, and has conducted numerous due diligence investigations for the Maryland Lottery and Gaming and Control Agency, and other corporate clients. Brown, Kaszak, & Associates has been featured on Dateline and TrueCrime for investigative work that brought resolution to a cold case homicide.
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