I frequently get inquiries from people looking for help on locating a missing child. Often the missing person is over 16 years of age, so they are deemed to be an adult in the eyes of the law. In most cases police can't assist at all so a private investigator is contacted.
If the missing person refuses contact with their family / friends, it can be an extremely emotional and difficult situation.
I was recently contacted by the sister of a missing person, who was an "adult" male. He had been missing for over 5 weeks, refused all contact (in fact he had changed his mobile number) and his sister and mother were very concerned about his welfare.
Here are my thoughts on this type of situation.
1. Locating someone who does not want to be located is extremely difficult - and therefore also costly. Someone living with friends, shared accommodation, in shelters, etc., can't be found by database searches alone. It requires investigation time - either by phone and/or by physically going to talk to people.
2. These types of matters usually take a great deal of time and, unfortunately, there is no guarantee of success. Someone constantly moving from place to place makes it even harder.
3. If the missing person can be located, you might get some brief satisfaction knowing they are okay. But, if they then move on again, you will be in exactly the same situation you were in originally.
In such a case, you need to understand you might initially be spending a great deal of money (possibly up to several thousands of dollars) to locate him or her, then have to repeat this should they again go missing. Obviously this would be an unsustainable situation.
4. As concerned as you might be about the missing person's welfare, if they are an adult they can chose whether they wish to maintain contact with you or not. As selfish as this might be, it is (unfortunately) their choice. Police usually cannot take any action in this type of situation and the missing person cannot be forced to do something they don't want to do.
Despite the above, whether a private investigator is enlisted to assist or not, it is important for you to give the missing person your unconditional support should they get in contact so they know they have a safe and welcoming place to go should they need it - one free from recriminations.
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