What to Do

A checklist for what families should do if their loved one is missing.

Contact local law enforcement

Know in advance that some law enforcement agencies are reluctant to take a report of a missing adult. It is important to stay calm and focused, and express the concern for the situation along with details surrounding your concern.

  • Write down the name of the officer who takes the report as well as his/her ID, telephone number and the police report number.
  • Find out from the officer who will follow up on the initial investigation.
  • Keep a notebook and record all information on the investigation.
  • Ask for a the report to be entered with NamUs.gov. NamUs, the National Missing and Unidentified Persons System, is a national centralized repository and resource center for missing persons and unidentified decedent records. NamUs is a free online system that can be searched by medical examiners, coroners, law enforcement officials and the general public from all over the country in hopes of resolving these cases. The Missing Persons Database contains information about missing persons that can be entered by anyone; however before it appears as a case on NamUs, the information is validated with the criminal justice agency. NamUs provides a user with a variety of resources, including the ability to print missing persons posters and receive free biometric collection and testing assistance for the supporting criminal justice agency. Other resources include links to state clearinghouses, medical examiner and coroner offices, law enforcement agencies, victim assistance groups and pertinent legislation.
  • Make fingerprint and dental records available to the police.
  • If there are medical or emotional concerns, make sure they are clearly stated when filing the report.
  • If there are medical or emotional concerns, contact Outpostforhope.org. Outpost for Hope is a shining light on the unaccounted for populations – many of who are lost on the streets as a result of untreated mental illness and/or co-occurring addiction problems. Outpost for Hope helps families in crisis, law enforcement agencies and others find the lost and connect them to the information and resources needed to ensure their safety.