How to File a Missing Person Report

When a person you love goes missing, panic occurs. It's only human nature. However, it's important remain clear-headed, even if your mind is in turmoil. First, you must call the police. After that, file a missing persons report. Do this as soon as possible after you're certain that the person is really missing. While the system varies from state to state, the report is basically the same.

Writing the Report Itself

Write down an exact description of the person. State hair color, eye color, skin tone, height, approximate weight, build, scars and other specific personal features. Write the length and style of the hair, the body type and the kind of voice the person has and whether he wears glasses or braces. Anything specific that you can give is important.

Describe the last thing you saw the person wearing. Describe shoes, hats and accessories as well as the physical clothes worn.

Write down any known medical conditions and any medications that the missing person relies upon. A diabetic may be in desperate need of insulin, and some heart medications must to be taken daily. Write down the problems, as well as any solutions the person uses to keep herself in control.

Pull together photographs of your loved one. Head and shoulder shots are usually best. However, if the person has an unusual stature, include a full-body shot. Both types of photographs are helpful. Come up with any photos you can that reflect how the person looks today.

Account--in as much detail as possible--where the person was and what she was doing before she went missing. This may take calling friends, family members or going to places that the person frequents. Try to get a last sighting. This can be instrumental in finding the person.

Filing the Report

Provide all of the information in Section 1 to your local police station both orally and in writing. Be as thorough as possible. Include anything you can think of, and do so as soon as possible.

Request that the information be given to the National Crime Information Center (NCIC) Missing Person File.

Call the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (see Resources) at 800-THE-LOST or 800-843-5678, if the person is underage. Provide the group with the information given in Section 1. Someone there will further assist you in finding the missing person.

Follow up frequently to find out more information on the case. Keep in mind, however, that with a case of this magnitude, all entities involved should contact you immediately upon finding new or relevant information. Considerate checking in is appropriate, though.


Have your child fingerprinted. A child-safety kit can be obtained from your local police department.


Don't let your child surf the web unsupervised. This is a whole new arena for predators. Be sure that they don't create Internet profiles, and that they are informed early on to never give out full names, addresses, school names or phone numbers to strangers online.