The Critical Difference Between Finding a “Missing Person” and “Locating a Person”

Finding a missing person is different from simply locating someone onlineDid you know that there actually is a difference between a “missing person” and “locating a person”? Locating someone from your past may be as easy as an Internet search you can do yourself (here’s how to find someone online). If you are looking for a lost relative, an old girlfriend, or a former colleague, then Google,,, and social media will be your best friends. But if it is truly a “missing persons” case, then it belongs in the law enforcement realm. Unfortunately, the police can only do so much, so it may be up to you to hire a private investigator.

Here is what the police can and cannot do:

  1. They cannot file a missing person report until the person has been missing for 24 hours. They will file a report after 24 hours, but this does not mean they will actively search for this person.
  2. They cannot find a person who does not want to be found. Sometimes there may be a runaway situation; other times, someone may just want to disappear.
  3. The police can search the area where the person was last sighted and conduct interviews with friends, neighbors, and colleagues.
  4. They can check the missing person’s cell phone records, their “virtual” web footprint, and their credit or debit card usage.
  5. They can pull and examine footage from CCTV and security cameras if the person’s last location is known.

What A Private Investigator Can Do

In contrast, here is what a private investigator can do in addition to what the local law enforcement is doing:

  1. Investigators can investigate any type of missing person – kidnappings, runaways, fugitives, and cases where people have gone missing for any reason. They can even skip trace a missing person who don’t want to be found. There is no statute of limitations on finding a missing person for private investigators. They can even locate so-called “cold cases” because their hands are not tied by bureaucracy and budgets.
  2. Investigators can use tactics that law enforcement are not able to use to find your loved one. They can also begin a search immediately instead of waiting for the initial 24-hour period to end.
  3. While you as an individual can use the Internet to search public records, investigators have access to databases and contacts that the public does not have access to. Additionally,They use their years of experience and training to search for a missing person in real-time without relying on dated and possibly inaccurate information.
  4. A PI is your dedicated resource for finding the missing person. They can more easily travel across state borders or across the country to follow any leads that turn up whereas local law enforcement has to follow certain rules and protocols that don’t allow them access to other states.
  5. Oftentimes, people are more comfortable talking to a private investigator instead of the police. PIs can blend in better, and often people will reveal sensitive information and details that they aren’t as comfortable sharing with law enforcement.

Conclusion On The Difference Between Finding A Missing Person and Locating One

Lead Investigator of North American Investigations and veteran Great Neck NY private investigator Darrin Giglio said, “We have had numerous clients tell us the Police were not treating their missing persons case with attention, limited the information they would share with them and were hard to get in contact with. Unfortunately many Police Departments are overworked and undermanned with large caseloads dedicating only a certain amount to their case, whereas a Private Investigator will dedicate their time, resources, contacts, and willingness to share information without the constraints the Police may have investigating a missing person.”

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