California Missing Persons
The Missing and Unidentified Persons Unit in the California Department of Justice assists law enforcement and criminal justice agencies in locating missing persons and identifying unknown live and deceased persons through the comparison of physical characteristics, fingerprints and dental/body X-rays.
In California, a missing person is someone whose whereabouts is unknown to the reporting party. This includes any child who may have run away, been taken involuntary or may be in need of assistance. It includes a child illegally taken, held or hidden by a parent or non-parent family member (See California Penal Code Sections 277-280).
There is NO waiting period for reporting a person missing. All California police and sheriffs' departments must accept any report, including a report by telephone, of a missing person, including runaways, without delay and will give priority to the handling of the report.
Schools are part of the network to help find missing children, not only through notices required to be given to a public school district or private school within 10 days of a child's disappearance but also through use of our Missing Person Bulletin.
By making photographs of missing persons available, we seek to aid in the identification and recovery of missing persons. According to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, one in six missing children are recovered as a direct result of someone recognizing their photo and notifying authorities. We also offer resources on this web site for locating missing persons and safeguarding your children.
The following offers a summary of some of our programs. Further information is available by selecting the program categories on the left menu.
- AMBER ALERT. California's AMBER Alert is an innovative statewide program in which law enforcement agencies, local radio and television stations and the public collaborate to help locate abducted children as soon as possible after they are reported missing.
- MISSING PERSONS SEARCH. A searchable database of missing persons allows you to look for a missing person by name, description, county and several other categories.
- MISSING CHILDREN CLEARINGHOUSE. The Clearinghouse provides a nationwide, toll-free hotline to receive tips on the whereabouts of missing persons. Call toll-free:
- MISSING CHILDREN REWARD PROGRAM. Rewards of up to $500 are offered for providing information which leads to the location and recovery of a missing child listed in the California Department of Justice Missing Persons System. Details on the reward program are available from the California Victim Compensation and Government Claims Board, 1-800-955-0045.
- FEATURED MISSING CHILDREN AND ADULT CASES. The number of active missing person cases averages around 25,000 in California. The Featured Missing Children and Featured Missing Adults highlight cases where photographs have been submitted by law enforcement for use in accordance with laws and policies for sharing the image of the missing person. To have a photograph added, family members of a missing person should submit their photographs to the law enforcement agency taking the missing person report.
- FEATURED UNIDENTIFIED PERSON. There are currently over 2,100 reports of unidentified persons in our automated database. Periodically, we will be providing photographs or drawings of selected cases.
- MISSING PERSON BULLETIN. The Missing Person Bulletin is of special value to schools, as the missing children are categorized by school level: preschool, primary and secondary. Individuals reported missing as juveniles that now would be age 18 or over are categorized as emancipated juveniles. There are also sections for dependent adults and voluntary missing adults. To help locate missing persons, the Department of Justice also produces and distributes a monthly poster of missing children and a quarterly bulletin of missing children and dependent adults. Special edition posters may also be created. This on-line version of the published quarterly bulletin has additional categories and is updated twice weekly.
- MISSING PERSON STATISTICS. The Department of Justice annually will update the statistics of missing persons from information provided by law enforcement agencies. Law enforcement agencies are required by state law to report missing persons cases to the Missing Persons System, an automated database which can be used by authorized law enforcement and criminal justice agencies via the California Law Enforcement Telecommunications System.