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Missing Persons

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Mesa's Missing Persons | How to Take a DNA Sample | Searching for Missing Family Members

The Mesa Police Department's Missing Persons Unit is dedicated in doing thorough investigations and doing all that we can to locate your missing person. Our goal is to do so quickly and minimize the possibility of harm to the missing person. We enjoy returning lost or missing children to their families as soon as possible.

Missing Adults

In Arizona, thousands of adults are reported missing each year. Some people have seen on television that you must wait 24 or even 72 hours to report someone missing. This is not true. There is no waiting period. In fact, the sooner we have a case the sooner we can get to work in helping you find the missing person. Very few missing adults are the victim of foul play or some other criminal act. Most missing persons are found or return home within just a few days. If any foul play is suspected the investigation changes and escalates accordingly.

Being a missing person is not a crime. Adults can be missing if they choose to. They can chose to leave work, ignore friends and even family. Because of this, law enforcement is quite limited in what they can do. Even if law enforcement does locate the person, they can not divulge any information about that person without specific permission from that person.

Entering adults into the national database (NCIC), is also limited. A report may be taken and an investigator will be assigned to all cases, but there are specific criterion for NCIC. If the missing person has a physical handicap or mental disability, if they are missing involuntarily, if they are a victim of a catastrophe or if they are in some way endangered, then the person can be placed into NCIC.

Runaways

Running away is not a crime. Police departments will document that the child has run away, but many departments do not assign runaway reports to an investigator. Because they are juveniles, the child will be entered into a national database (NCIC). If an officer anywhere in the country runs a check on the child, a 'hit' will come up advising the officer of the runaway status. The officer will then verify the child's identity and the child's parents will be contacted to take custody of their child. Refusing to do so may result in the parent / guardian being charged with child neglect.

The primary responsibility of the Mesa Police Department's Missing Persons Unit is for missing persons who are truly missing. Yes, there is a difference between a missing person and a runaway. A missing person case has an unexplained disappearance; where as the runaway has a motive to disappear and does not want to be found. The Missing Persons Unit has resources not available to the general public and can tap into many databases to assist the parents. The Mesa Police Department Missing Persons Investigators are very willing to assist you in finding your child.

Finding and recovering a runaway child depends greatly on the active and aggressive participation of the parent / guardian. Searching for your child may seem overwhelming and a parent will feel completely lost as how to search or where to start.

Here are a few tips to help you start finding your runaway.

Make a list of all friends, associates and classmates, and start calling.

  1. Who is the boyfriend / girlfriend and where do they live?
  2. This lets your runaway know that you are hot on their trail and are serious about finding them.
  3. Last names, phone numbers and addresses are a great help if you have something you would like the investigator to help with.
  4. Many runaways have been trained by other runaways and will tell your child to take date books and photos with them or destroy them.
  5. The runaway may clear all telephone numbers from a cellular telephone databank so that you won't call their friends.

Keep track of who you have contacted, what they told you and when.

  1. Your runaway's friends will often hide the truth from you and investigators.
  2. Document the names of the parents and tell the parents that you absolutely do not give permission for your runaway to stay or live anywhere except home.
  3. Because running away is not a crime, court orders for cellular telephone records cannot be obtained. If the cellular telephone that your runaway might be using is in your name, you can get the call records without a court order.

Consider *57.

  1. If your child calls home, you can dial *57. This is an actual trace done by the telephone company. There is a small fee for each *57. (Approx. $2.00 per each trace request)
  2. After the call, hang up and immediately get a new dial tone before any other incoming calls and dial *57. Stay on the line and wait for the 1-800 number that you will receive from a message machine.
  3. Document the date, time and telephone number that you used. This may not work on incoming cellular telephone calls.
  4. Call the investigator with the information. The information can only be released to a law enforcement agency and it requires a police PIN number and an active case number.
  5. Not all traces are successful. From some cordless telephone or rotary dial telephones use *1157

List all of the "hang outs" and activities of your child.

  1. You may know of several and the runaway's friends may give you more.
  2. Let the investigator know if the runaway has used or is using drugs.
  3. List what the runaway enjoys doing in his/her spare time. Has the runaway talked about places where they had fun?

List what the runaway took with them.

  1. How many changes of clothing?
  2. Any food or money taken?
  3. Cellular telephone or pager with your child?
  4. Make-up or toys missing? (CD player, Gameboy, skateboard, bicycle, etc.)

Check telephone, computer / Internet access.

  1. Check the computer history. You may find that a bus ticket was purchased.
  2. Search for e-mail to friends and messages about running away.
  3. Check your long distance telephone log.

Check with the school and any employers.

  1. The school will be glad to give you an attendance history.
  2. The school staff and security officers may know friends that you don't.
  3. Is your runaway expecting a paycheck soon?
  4. Are there work associates that you are not aware of?
  5. What is the work history like? Unexcused absences from work?

Monitor your home.

  1. Many runaways will sneak home to steal food, money and get more clothing. Many times they don't come alone.
  2. Is there a way to secure your home and know if the runaway was there while you were at work or away?

Some runaway cases may last months. It is the responsibility of the parent / guardian to call the investigator and validate that the child is still missing every 30 days. (NCIC policy). If contact is lost with the parent / guardian for any significant time, the case may be cleared and dropped.

Be sure to call 480-644-2211, or the investigator you are working with, to notify them of the child's return. If your child was found and returned by any police agency, please notify the investigator assisting on your case. The Mesa Police Department and the Missing Persons Investigators are willing to assist you in your search and will help dealing with other police departments, if needed. Please be patient. The Investigators are working a large number of cases at any given time.

A Missing Persons Investigator can also inform you of several resources for post-runaway help. There are many agencies, group homes, retreats and camps for struggling youth. There are no free teen help sources available, but many are covered by insurance. It is our hope that our assistance will help you in getting your runaway child home again.

Making a Missing Persons Report

A missing persons report can be made by going to the Mesa Police Headquarters at 130 N. Robson in Mesa; calling an officer to your home if you live in Mesa (call 480-644-2211) or in some cases by telephone. If you wish to make a missing persons report from another state, please call 480-644-2211.

Be sure to call 480-644-2211 or the investigator you are working with, to notify us of the missing person's return. If you move prior to locating the missing person, please call the investigator assigned with your new information so that you can be notified when the missing person is located.