What to do if a person goes missing: a detailed search guide from a lawyer

There are sad statistics in Russia: 200 people disappear every day. In addition to the missing, there are also criminals who are put on the federal wanted list. In law enforcement agencies, when opening a search case, they classify the reasons for missing people:

  • Due to senile dementia, older citizens have lost their orientation and forgotten their residential address;
  • children got lost in the city, lost from the supervision of adults;
  • criminal elements are hiding from law enforcement officers.

Legal analysts claim that the accused and suspects are quickly found thanks to successful operational search activities.

Stages of search

Search activities consist of 2 stages:

  • active search;
  • opening a separate investigation case.

If it is not possible to find someone in hot pursuit, as part of the search case they begin checking the installation data and monitoring for possible “beacons”. Using technical capabilities, they establish the location of a person using a mobile phone, if it is available and turned on. Withdrawing money from ATMs can tell you a lot. Often, informants of various levels and simply conscientious law-abiding citizens come to the aid of those authorized for operational-search activities. The successful work of an operative officer largely depends on his ability to recruit informants. Mobile operators help; upon request, they provide the coordinates of a lost person.

How many people disappear in Russia

The statistics of missing Russians in our country is updated every day. Messages flash in the news every now and then: a search has been organized for a child, he left home and did not return, he went to work and disappeared... Behind these news there are not just numbers and incidents. Behind them are real lives, stories, and often tragedies. This happens to about sixteen children every day. Adults get lost more often - up to 300 people a day. A serious figure accumulates over the course of a year.

“About 110 thousand people,” lawyer Roman Goncharov answers the question of how many people disappear in our country every year. — There are official statistics that are maintained and published in semi-annual reports on the website of the Ministry of Internal Affairs in the statistics and analytics section. There you can see the number of missing people, the reasons for their disappearance, and the number of people found alive and dead. Also in Russia there is a specialized Internet resource “Search Base.rf”, where you can find information about missing citizens or post a missing person announcement.”


Types of searches

Russian jurisprudence has divided the search for people into categories, in the form of a search:

  • local - when search activity is carried out in a certain locality;
  • regional - searched in the region by region or region;
  • federal - searched throughout the country;
  • interstate – the search extends to the CIS countries;
  • international - the search is being conducted by Interpol throughout the world.

Employees of the departments of the Ministry of Internal Affairs, the Federal Bailiff Service, and the Federal Penitentiary Service are authorized to search for people.

If a person disappears abroad

Being abroad, people become more vulnerable: they usually do not speak the language of that country well, do not know the area, and therefore can simply get lost while walking.
Or become a victim of criminals (they exist in any country). The search for fellow citizens lost outside Russia will be carried out by:

  • local police;
  • diplomatic mission (embassy).

It is impossible to predict the timing of the search in advance. The tasks of the Russian Embassy include:

  • coordination of the work of local police;
  • maintaining contact with relatives of the missing Russian;
  • providing assistance in drawing up the necessary applications and collecting documents.

Foreign police usually pay special attention to cases involving the disappearance of “guests” of their state.

How does an operational search work?

Law enforcement agencies declare a search for criminal elements, and the appointed investigator or interrogator begins operational search activities.

Relatives file a complaint against law-abiding missing people, and on this basis a search case is opened. The statement details:

  • circumstances of the loss;
  • clothes;
  • phone numbers;
  • relatives' addresses.

During the search:

  • interview friends and acquaintances;
  • inspect the housing;
  • make requests to hospitals and morgues.

Investigators are finding out the last contacts of the missing person, when the phone calls stopped and who saw him last.

Firefighters are looking, police are looking...

According to many experts, the system of modern domestic state investigation of missing persons does not always work effectively due to its slowness, which, in turn, is explained by a lot of bureaucratic approvals.

Here, unfortunately, sometimes the police will take your statement, but they won’t take active action; they’ll wait three days. They hope that the person will appear. Well, unless, of course, there are such terrible moments or circumstances indicating that the missing person could have been killed. Then, of course, a case is opened and investigative measures are taken. But I take a common bad practice, so to speak. The man came, they told him: if he doesn’t come within this time, we’ll put him on the wanted list. During this time, the man was taken away and buried two meters deep somewhere in the field. Alexander Gurov

Lieutenant General of Police, Deputy of the State Duma. Doctor of Law, Professor

Police Lieutenant General Alexander Ivanovich Gurov once ate the dog in the investigation case. The country's honored detective has his own opinion about how long it takes for the police to actually begin a real active search. And the legends about patience for three days were not born out of nowhere. However, according to him, the search engine really begins to work a few days after receiving the application.

In fact, this kind of systemic search is being carried out more than ten days later. Why? Because three days later, a relative of the missing person came and provided some more documents... Then the corresponding papers are drawn up and signed by the boss. Then a decision is made to put the person on the wanted list. Then this documentation is sent to the field. While they get there, the boss signs and familiarizes the personnel. All this takes ten days, no less, or even more. During this time, the crows will already peck the corpse if it lies somewhere in the field... Alexander Gurov

Lieutenant General of Police, Deputy of the State Duma. Doctor of Law, Professor

The police have instructions from the Ministry of Justice, the prosecutor's office, and even the Ministry of Internal Affairs itself: if a person with money has disappeared, if a child has disappeared, then a case should be immediately opened under Article 105 - “Murder”. But the case, as a rule, is opened on the basis of a wanted investigation. This means that everything is limited only to the fact that the police post up advertisements that no one pays attention to. And the police themselves, having dozens of such advertisements on their hands, will not even be able to remember anyone! Looking for a person is generally very difficult. But if the system for finding people is also ineffective, then searching is doubly difficult. Mikhail Vinogradov

psychiatrist-criminologist, Doctor of Medical Sciences, head of the Center for Legal and Psychological Assistance in Extreme Situations

Indeed, a very interesting and important detail. It is the criminal case regarding the disappearance of a person that is initiated by law enforcement agencies only if there is reason to believe that the missing person could have become a victim of a crime. If the case is under investigation, then, accordingly, the scale of efforts of the competent institutions and departments is different. Thousands of applicants receive refusals to initiate criminal proceedings into the disappearance of their relatives. Refusal notices are printed, like newspapers in a printing house, in batches.

In addition, the so-called cane system in the police has not yet been abolished. Vysyaki are also people who disappeared without a trace, the number of which seriously spoils the indicators. That’s why the officers on duty at police departments, even at the stage of accepting applications from citizens, sometimes try to take the applicants at their word: “Aren’t you inclined...”, “Has he been noticed in vicious relationships?”, “And where exactly did the person disappear, that is, on whose area..."

I know such a case. Two women came to the police. They say that the husbands went with a large sum of money to buy goods. Gone. The district police department does not accept the statement: “I suppose your husbands have gone on a spree?!” They contact the prosecutor's office. There they ask: “Where did you go from Moscow? To Orel? Let them open a business there, in Orel. The eagle says: “Prove that they reached us - let Moscow open the case. Well, if you remember the story on Zhdanovskaya, then there the corpse of a state security officer was thrown from the territorial borders of Moscow beyond the ring road, and from behind the ring road the regional police gentlemen threw it back. And so on several times. Mikhail Vinogradov

psychiatrist-criminologist, Doctor of Medical Sciences, head of the Center for Legal and Psychological Assistance in Extreme Situations

You hear stories like this and it makes your hair stand on end. That is why our citizens have to rely solely on their own strengths and search methods, which they were not taught within the walls of law faculties. Or even wander around to fortune tellers and soothsayers.

Photo: TASS/Mikhail Japaridze

Method No. 3. Invisible fingerprint camera

The crux of the matter

Valentine's Day in 2015 turned into a real nightmare for a 13-year-old Voronezh schoolgirl. The girl left her apartment at 12:30 to go to school. At the entrance, a man attacked her, took off his pants, and corrupted her. After mocking the schoolgirl, the young man ran away.

Immediately after the attack, the girl called her mother, who filed a statement with the police.

How technology helped

Cyanoacrylate camera reads fingerprints even from difficult surfaces

Photo - Roman Demyanenko
- When examining the entrance, we found beer bottles and cigarette butts. The bottles were sent to a cyanoacrylate chamber, which helps detect invisible hand marks on objects. We received fingerprints and ran them through the Papillon fingerprint database. And the fingers “shot”. It turned out that these were the prints of a 31-year-old repeat offender from Novaya Usman, convicted of robbery and theft. The girl confidently identified him,” Murat Tsuroev, head of the criminalistics department of the Investigative Committee of the Investigative Committee for the region, revealed the secret of the investigation.

Murat Tsuroev on the road in one of the regional departments

Photo - courtesy of the Investigative Committee of the Investigative Committee

How the investigation ended

When the criminal was already under arrest, the results of a molecular genetic examination arrived. They confirmed that saliva found on cigarette butts from the crime scene belonged to the rapist.

Basic recommendations for friends and relatives of the missing

You can take all possible measures to avoid losing a child or loved one, but no one is immune from such a situation. If this happens, it is important not to panic and not try to solve the problem on your own.

It’s great if you managed to call your friends and find out that the lost person is with them. If not, you need to seek help from the services of the Moscow region or another region of the country at the location of the missing person.

How to help the police search

The main thing that can really help the police is to strain their memory and provide as much information as possible about the disappeared person. In addition to the features of his appearance and the clothes in which he was last seen, it would not be out of place to indicate:

  • who were among his close friends;
  • where did he work;
  • what kind of relationships you had with employees and family members;
  • when was he last seen?
  • what mood he was in;
  • what events took place shortly before the disappearance.

These and other facts will allow search staff to get an idea of ​​a person’s life and move further in the right direction.

Recommended actions when searching for a person

It is important to involve as many people as possible who know the missing person in the search. At the right time, they will provide real assistance to specialists, since finding a person from a photo or being familiar with him are two different things.

One person always needs to stay at home in case the disappeared person returns, the other needs to go to places where the person may be, etc.

Typical mistakes of relatives and friends of a missing person

The main mistake loved ones make is waiting three days. Many still believe that the police will not accept a statement before this time, or hope to find the missing person on their own.

You should not hide the whole truth from law enforcement officers or the search party, even if it concerns personal issues that you would not like to talk about. The police need to know that the man or woman liked to drink, this is not the first time the teenager has run away and the last time he was found in another city, and the child was scolded or hit shortly before the disappearance.

The next mistake is to constantly call the missing person. If he doesn't pick up the phone, the only thing that can be achieved is to drain his phone's battery. Because of this, he will lose his only source of communication.

It is important to avoid mistakes and seek help in a timely manner. In this case, the probability of a favorable outcome of events will be maximum.

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