Missing Persons

You need to know:  There is no requirement to wait before reporting a person missing to the Thunder Bay Police Service.

If there is some indication that the missing person is in immediate danger, call 9-1-1 immediately. If not, call the Thunder Bay Police Service at 684-1200 to file a missing person report.

Who is a missing person?

Anyone reported to police or by police as someone whose whereabouts are unknown, whatever the circumstances of their disappearance, and they are considered missing until located.

A missing person under the age of 18 is classified as a missing child. In the case of a missing child, they are considered missing if they are no longer in the care or control of their legal guardian and have not been removed by law, and they are considered missing until returned to appropriate care and control.

Prior to reporting a missing person the following steps should be completed:

•    check area hospitals
•    check with friends, acquaintances and family members
•    check with school and/or employer
•    check places that the person frequents

If you are unsure of what to do, ask yourself: Is this out of character for this individual? If the answer is yes, then contact police right away.

Who can report a missing person?

Generally, anyone can report another person as missing including a guardian, family member, employer, teacher or friend.

Determining the risk factors:

Each case will then involve a risk assessment where a series of questions will identify the nature and urgency of the missing person case. 

Since every missing person investigation is unique, there are an endless number of issues to consider. The following are a few of the risk factors:

  • possess a physical or mental disability;
  • is elderly or very young;
  • is dependent on prescription medications;
  • is unfamiliar with the city;
  • wanderers or is an Alzheimer patient;
  • is associated with violent behavior.

Reporting a Missing Person:

When you make a report to police regarding a missing person, having key information available about that person is very important.

Things police need to know:

  • Full description of the person including height, weight, eye colour, hair including length, tattoos, birthmarks, glasses, clothing.
  • any other special features or items in their possession like jewelry, a backpack etc.
  • Have a current photo of the person that can be used to locate the person.
  • You will be asked to email the person’s photo to police or to provide a copy of it which will be retained as part of the report.  We will also make an electronic copy of any printed photo you provide.
  • Last known location including time of day.
  • Social media accounts they have and use.
  • Names and contact information for friends, relatives and employer if applicable.
  • Places that the missing person likes to go.
  • Preferred form of transportation.
  • Medications and medical issues.
  • Past history of issues with family, friends, schoolmates or coworkers.
  • Reason why you think the person may have gone missing.

Will a media release be issued to locate a missing person (Child or Adult)?

A media release can be issued only when the risk assessment has been done by police in conjunction with the family or guardian of the missing person. Often, missing persons are located based on information provided by family, guardians, friends, acquaintances and even social media contacts.

The release of a person's photo and other information will have an impact on their privacy. Police consider these issues before resorting to the release of personal information to the public. A missing person's safety will outweigh privacy.  

Once an adult missing person is located, please keep in mind the following:
•    It is not a crime to be missing.
•    Adults can choose to leave home and cut off all contact with friends and family. This means law enforcement is limited in what it can do in these situations. 
•    Even if law enforcement locates a missing person, they cannot divulge any information about that person without specific permission from that person.