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The “Unfindable” Person: Challenges in Locate Services

Locate services are requested by a variety of clients, but some of the most distressed can be family members seeking a loved one with whom they have lost contact. These are NOT cases in which the subject cannot be found. Quite often they are cases in which the time and resources necessary to find the person continue to increase for the investigative agency and therefore the client. This kind of matter is one in which we sympathize with the client; however, we can only do all of the correct investigative actions.

The as yet to be located person might differ considerably from what the general public thinks of as a “missing person”. They can be someone who is not working or living at a particular place regularly, is living at friends’ houses or hotels, maintaining a minimal social media presence if any, or doesn’t have a current connection to an address that can be found via any documentation, such as a utility bill, lease or vehicle registration. With no connection to a given address or employer, it would naturally and logically be difficult for any investigative effort to determine their location, at least not easily or expeditiously. If there were a person who knew the subject’s location and was willing to convey it when investigators speak to them, that could change the equation, but that scenario is rare at best. Furthermore, a person desiring to remain unfindable has ways of accomplishing this, at least for a time.

It is not out of the ordinary for police investigations of serious crimes, including efforts to locate key witnesses and suspects, to take months or even years. This, even with the superior resources law enforcement has, such as warrants, subpoenas, national law enforcement (only) databases, and authority. Almost no client could fund such investigations. Most rational people don’t declare police incompetent or incapable only because of the duration of these investigations. However, when a private investigator takes more than two weeks and more than $500 to accomplish an investigative goal, you would be surprised at how quickly people oddly declare the PI incapable.

Since there is a finitude to the various vectors by which information about a given person’s location can be received or discovered by an investigative professional, if that investigative professional has partaken of all of those vectors, then the solution may be “time”. Given more time, the subject is likely to at some point establish within some data repository information leading to their location. This is how many law enforcement matters are brought to a close: time. Time allowing for the subject to leave a trace. This is not to suggest that investigators ever do nothing and just wait, but rather that critical data resources are regularly checked and re-checked as other investigative avenues are pursued.

The point of all of this is that some investigations, including “locates”, can be difficult while also not impossible; this is not as a result of a given investigator being incapable or worse, but because of the realities of such things as I’ve summarized here, and the most common (and frustrating) limitation being that of the cost of time and resources

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