Investigations regarding missing persons present a genuine challenge to law enforcement professionals. Fortunately, public awareness and concern about missing persons continues to grow, especially as it relates to missing children, persons who are mentally and physically impaired, and suspected victims of foul play. The San Francisco Police Department will investigate all persons reported missing until the person is found.
Missing Persons Unit
850 Bryant St, Room 500
San Francisco, CA 94103
9:00 am to 5:00 pm Monday through Friday.
link to SFPD Missing Persons
What Is a Missing Person
A missing person includes, but is not limited to, any of the following:
A minor (person less than 18 years of age) who is missing and may be any of the following
- who is missing voluntarily or involuntarily
- the victim of parental abduction
An adult who is missing and may be any of the following
- voluntarily or involuntarily
- the victim of a crime or foul play
- in need of immediate medical attention
- is mentally or physically impaired
NOTE: The San Francisco Police Department does not have the authority nor the resources to find uprooted friends or relatives who have lost contact with each other. Concerned individuals who are interested in such matters are requested to employ other public and private resources.
How to Report a Missing Person
- You may initiate a Missing Persons Report by contacting your local law enforcement agency.
- There is no waiting period to report a missing person.
- Contsct 911 for cases involving young children or if foul play is suspected.
- All other non-emergency cases can be reoported by calling (415) 553-0123 or by going to your district station.
- No online reporting is allowed.
- Be prepared to provide information on the missing person, including name, date of birth/age, physical information, and medical information Police will need to know the circumstances surrounding the disappearance and the last known location where the missing person had been seen or was known to be.
- Other helpful information that may be provided: missing person's phone accounts, email address, known associate's contact information, and a photograph of the missing person (If available), dental and medical.
Note: According to California Department of Justice guidelines, the investigating agency is normally the agency in which the missing person lives. If the missing person does not reside within the City of San Francisco, a courtesy Missing Persons Report will be completed and then distributed to the concerned law enforcement agency where the missing person lives and was last seen.
Since being a missing person is not a crime, police are given a very limited role while conducting these types of investigations. As a general rule, all people have a right to be left alone, and police intrusion into their lives must be minimal. However, in cases where “foul-play” exists, police can investigate just like any other criminal act. Also, in cases where the missing person is “endangered” due to medical problems, or life-threatening situations, police will take appropriate investigative measures.
Missing Persons Cases are investigated by the SIT teams at the district stations for 30 days. Thereafter, the case will be transferred to the Missing Persons Unit at the Special Victims Unit. Please contact the reporting district station (http://sanfranciscopolice.org/police-district-maps) for all Missing Persons Cases less than 30 days old.
What can you do?
• Check with local area hospitals. (http://gis.oshpd.ca.gov/atlas/places/list-of-hospitals/county/san-francisco)
• Check with local homeless shelters. (http://www.homelessshelterdirectory.org/cgi-bin/id/city.cgi?city=San%20F...)
• Check with the San Francisco Sheriff “Inmate Locator” web-site. (http://apps.sfgov.org/InmateInfo/)
• Check with the San Francisco Medical Examiner web-site. (http://sfgov.org/medexaminer/)
What to do if the missing person returns...
It is likely the missing person will return on his or her own, or contact family and friends. If this occurs, the police should be notified as soon as possible. In order for the missing person to be removed from the database, the missing person must be seen in person by a police officer. The missing person can report to any police station or a police officer can be sent to their location. If the person is within San Francisco, you may call the SFPD non-emergency line at (415) 553-0123 to have an officer sent to their location.
What to do if the missing person doesn’t return...
The majority of missing person cases are solved within a few days or weeks. However, there are times when investigations may go on for several months or even years. In such situations, you may want to enlist the services of a private investigator to assist in your search. The California Department of Justice web-site may offer guidance in selecting a reputable private investigator.
If you have posters made to aid in the search, please contact the investigator assigned to your case prior to distribution.
If you should change addresses or telephone numbers, please notify the detective assigned to your case.
• Contact the Social Security Administration Office in your area if you have a Social Security Number for the person you are looking for, you may write a letter to the missing person, put it in an envelope with his or her name on it. Write another letter to the Social Security Administration Office explaining that you are looking for this person. Be sure to include the Social Security Number of the missing person in this letter. Place both letters in an envelope to the Social Security Administration Office and ask that the enclosed letter be forwarded to the missing person’s last known address. (https://www.ssa.gov/)
• Contact the Salvation Army, which has a Missing Persons Locator Program. (http://www.salvationarmyusa.org/usn/missing-
The missing person’s present whereabouts or address will not be disclosed without the missing person’s consent.
If you have any questions concerning a missing person, please contact your local police station, or contact the Missing Persons Unit.
According to California Department of Justice guidelines, the investigating agency is normally the agency in which the missing person lives. If the missing person does not reside within the City of San Francisco, a courtesy Missing Persons Report will be completed and then distributed to the concerned law enforcement agency where the missing person lives and was last seen.