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How to Find a Missing Person

Private investigators will often be approached with cases of how to find a missing person or missing loved ones, whether their whereabouts have been unknown for a number of years or they have just gone missing recently.

How to find a missing person can vary greatly depending on the specifics of the situation, and every case is unique and different.

The key to success is to work with a private investigator that has the right skillset and years of experience in order to plan out a thorough and robust plan of action to find your missing loved one.

Cases of missing persons will often peak at times of the year when cherished family and friends are at the forefront of minds. As Christmas TV ads flood our screens and John Lewis tugs on our heart strings, people often find themselves thinking of those who are missing from their lives.

However, there can be year-round reminders of the person missing in your life and no matter when you decide to take the step forward to hopefully find that person, a private investigator can often be a sensible first move.

They can act as expert researcher, tracker and tracer, as well as confidant and support system for what will inevitably be an emotional rollercoaster.

The term missing person can conjure up many different thoughts but can simply be defined as anyone whose whereabouts cannot be established.

That can, in some instances, mean there is a concern the person in question is the subject of crime or at risk of harm to themselves or others, in which case the police should always be the first port of call. If the police are unable to help, then a private investigator can step in to take the case on.

On the other end of the spectrum it can simply involve losing touch with someone who you once cared about and not being able to contact them. Perhaps even a family member that you’ve never had contact with, yet you know they are out there somewhere. No two cases are the same.

No matter what the situation and circumstances, a private investigator will build up a full picture of the background, eek out all the information you have, some of which you might not even think is relevant, and then plan out a specific strategy for your case.

There’s a number of tactics a private investigator will adopt in the first stages of a missing persons enquiry. For example…..

  • Calling any historic numbers you may have had for the person, whether that be mobiles or landlines. Contact numbers no matter how old can act as a good starting point to ascertain initial information and kick start a missing persons investigation. In the case of an old landline number for example, the person now at that address might know where the old owner moved on to or in a small tight knit community they may hold even more background information about the person in question
  • Secondly visiting any known relatives and friends to sensitively and discreetly establish any information they might have. Often asking the same questions in different places can help to build up a much fuller picture of what might have happened to the missing person and where might be a sensible next area to explore
  • Thirdly visiting any known or linked addresses can be a fruitful way of information gathering and fact finding. Whether it be pubs they might have visited, social clubs they were part of or old work addresses. Again, no matter how old these addresses are there are often people still around from that period of time and they might hold a vital piece of the puzzle as to where the missing person might be

Equally, the above steps can also help an investigator rule out avenues of enquiry which can be just as helpful, to hone in the search enables the investigator to take a laser targeted approach. Keeping a record is a vital component in tracing investigations to ensure dead enquiry lines are not re-visited or explored which can waste valuable time and be costly for the client.

Once simple methods have been exhausted, a private investigator will use many tools and techniques at their disposal to locate the person in question, for example….

  • Checking public records such as marriage and death certificates or even change of name documents. Some people who have gone missing do not wish to be found and so carefully connecting the dots of changed names is intricate work which can be conducted by a private investigator
  • Obtaining business records such as director searches can often provide crucial information
  • Searching voter registration records will show where a person has registered to vote in previous years and can act as a trail of breadcrumbs to where they might currently be residing
  • Land registry deeds can show any property the person has historically or currently owns

The above is just a small snapshot of the tools at an investigators disposal that can be explored to swiftly and successfully trace a missing person.

Once all traditional avenues have been explored, an investigator will have a formal status report with the client and talk them through the progress of the case. If this approach hasn’t provided any useful information then the investigation could become much lengthier and more complex and at that point a conversation needs to be had as to whether the client wishes to proceed.

Even before this status update, a trace investigation should always feel like a joint approach between you and the investigator, they should regularly check in and update you with what intel they have gathered as you could hold the answers or clues to moving that nugget of information to the next level.

If you are struggling to find a person, speaking with a private investigator can help you to make your mind up on whether or not you do indeed need outside help.

If you are trying to trace a missing friend or relative, lost touch with somebody over the years, or there’s a more serious case of a missing person where you have concerns for their welfare, then please contact one of the missing persons team on the number below or use our contact us page.

Our highly trained team members have many years’ experience in these highly sensitive cases and can offer a free consultation to establish the best way forward for you.

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