Every day of the year, children under the age of 18 arrive in Hollywood determined to become the next Tom Cruise or Angelina Jolie. Many never see the inside of a movie theater let alone be on the big screen. Most find flophouses from the San Fernando Valley to the hills of Hollywood to the tough streets of Los Angeles. Many never get an interview, and most are never invited to an audition.
It is often not pretty here in the entertainment capital of the world. For many, despair results in a turn to drugs and alcohol. Some commit suicide. Many are exploited into the world of pornography or prostitution. Some are preyed upon by sexual predators or entangled in the world of sex trafficking.
When you have a missing child in Hollywood that falls off the societal map, what do you do? This post discusses the steps that you can take in this situation.
Contact the relevant police force’s Missing Persons Unit
First and foremost, understand that the Los Angeles Police Department and the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department office both have Missing Persons Units. The California Office of the Attorney General, Sacramento, CA (Northern California) has a similar unit but contacting them is not necessary as the LAPD and LASD are on the front lines here in Southern California. Many other law enforcement offices might get involved, depending on where the person lived or was last seen.
File a police report
Filing a police report is the most critical step in the entire “locate/find” process. It is against Federal law for the local police to invoke the observance of a waiting period before they do their job and take a report. Remember to get a police report number – not an incident number.
Your case can be one in a million
The chances of the case actually being worked can be slim to none. This is not a jab to the law enforcement community, but a realistic assessment having worked hundreds of these cases.
A person can be missing voluntarily, and that is not a crime. Hence, law enforcement is limited in what they can do. If the person has a disease, mental illness, marital problems, etc, then this type of case may not be worked because of police workload. Keep in mind that they are chasing murders, rapists, gang members and terrorists and their time and resources are limited. When foul-play is involved or a criminal act has been committed, this might give your case more priority. Eventually though, your case may find its way to the bottom of missing persons unit file drawer.
Hire a licensed private investigator
Every year (particularly during the summer), our offices receive a large number of calls regarding missing children and adults in and around Los Angeles.
Hiring a world-class private investigative agency has the benefit of helping your case to the head of the law enforcement working files. Once accomplished and working together, there are many things a private investigator can do that law enforcement can’t or doesn’t have time for. Conversely, there are many things law enforcement has at its disposal that the private investigator will never have.
You need a PI who will go into the police office with their “hat in their hand.” A PI should demonstrate respectfulness and determine if their participation will help or hinder the investigation. When you hire the right private investigator or agency, most departments are pleased with the extra help. One of the key things we do, when appropriate, is to call a press conference – so the case gets maximum exposure.
Not pulling the trigger in hiring a PI in a timely fashion is only slightly better than doing nothing at all. These cases are not inexpensive too work. Our normal retainer is $9,500 and we bill at $300/hour. Keep in mind that you are not only paying for our expertise and experience with hundreds of missing persons cases, but also our contacts and reputation with the Southern California law enforcement community.
Get all your information together
Finally, get all your information in order including a timeline of events, photos and all available identifying data on the subject. We only take one out of ten missing person cases presented to us so give yourself the best chance possible by being prepared.