Finding a Runaway
Private investigators can save the day when ic comes to a runaway teenager case. But they should be able to take advantage of digital forensics, internet investigations and email tracing.
Many times as a private investigator you’ll receive a desperate phone call from a worried parent begging for help in finding a runaway. The novice PI might refer the parent to local police and call it a day. They know that databases are useless in finding a runaway since they are likely under 18 and have no reported credit history reported to credit headers. Although it’s unlikely you’ll find a runaway using standard locating or skip tracing techniques it is possible to use old fashioned investigation methods and state of the art forensic technology to find runaways. But you’ll need to think outside the box. In the rest of this article we will attempt to provide a game plane for finding runaways. 1.Make a police report. Be sure to advise the parents to make a police report and establish a rapport with the detectives assigned to the case. These detectives are overworked and you need to make a persona; impression on them. 2. Make a detailed list of all the child’s friends. Especially boyfriends and girlfriends. You’ll need names , addresses, pictures, names of their parents and their friends too. 3. Secure the child’s computer, cell phone, blackberry etc. These devices will have evidence like detailed emails, text messages pics and caller Id. All these things can be recovered by a forensic examination but not unless the devices are secured. If you use them or tamper with them in any way you’ll be overwriting evidence. 4 Locate secret emails, blogs, Myspace and personal ads. All of the above information will be a wealth of solid leads for you to follow up with. Interview their friends and the friends of friends. Locate emails and trace the emails to see where they are being read. Usually in the first weeks a teen that has run away they will stay with friends. Contact the people on their myspace list to see what they know. Contact the people on their personal ads to see if they know anything. Kids that run away will have little to no resources so they will rely on their parents. They will use the family cell phone and email accounts. This activity can be traced by a private investigator that has experience in this area. If they leave behind a laptop or cell phone these devices can be examined forensically to uncover deleted emails and text messages, pics and address book entries. If you are going to take on a case that involves finding a runaway you should be experienced in digital forensics, online investigations and email tracing. If you are not you should outsource that portion to an investigator that is experienced in those areas and how they apply to finding a runaway
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