Tracing missing persons

When someone goes missing, voluntarily or involuntarily, the community often starts organizing a search party. In many cases, the individual is found quickly, but especially when borders are involved it is a challenge to find the missing person. Searching a person abroad often seems to be impossible. That is why we are there to help you.

In the event of a missing loved one, such as a child, spouse, another family member or friend, it is normal to worry quickly. Police figures show that 80% of the missing persons are found within 48 hours. But in 20% of cases this will take longer or a person remains missing. Investigation within the first 72 hours is therefore crucial.

Roughly we can divide missing person cases into three categories:

  • persons who are victims of an accident or crime
  • persons who go missing intentionally
  • persons who are unaware of being missed


The last two categories may seem harmless, but dangerous situations can arise. For instance a teenager who runs away from home but cannot find a safe haven or a child who has forgotten to tell that he is playing on a construction site. People are usually reported missing for financial or emotional reasons, or they are missing from a (care) facility where they reside.

Case example

Yolanda (46): This situation has been going on for almost a year now, but my mind is still busy with the missing of my brother every day. Gerald had been living in Bali for sixteen years. Even before it became a real tourist attraction, he fell in love with the Indonesian island. He was married to a local girl for a while, but that marriage ended after five years. But that was no reason for him to return though. He loved his wife a lot, however he loved the life and the peace and quiet there even more.

He is someone who doesn’t need many friends around him. He always loved me and my sister and seemed to be pleased with that. Our parents died at a relatively young age, so we gave a lot of support to each other and developed a strong bond. I found it remarkable that he broke the lease on his apartment all of a sudden and that we simply didn’t hear from him anymore. He no longer responded to emails and his phone didn’t seem to work anymore. All our messages remained unread.

Eventually I contacted the police. I didn’t suspect that something really bad was going on with him, but I found it very strange that he had suddenly disappeared from the face of the earth. They understood that feeling very well, but because he had terminated his lease with the announcement that he was going to travel, as his landlord told us, they saw no reason for international investigation. An adult has the right to make himself untraceable.

Three months went by and we still didn’t hear anything, so I traveled to Bali. Through our phone conversations I knew some places where he used to go every now and then so I asked around there. For instance the coffee shop on his street, where he sometimes went to Skype me, and the diving school where he had taught a few years earlier. I spoke to his landlord and his ex-wife too. No one could give me more information about where he had gone. Empty-handed, I flew back to the Netherlands.

That after much thought I hired a private detective is because the police unfortunately couldn’t do anything for me and I was limited in my options. Another reason is that my sister wants to respect my brother's decision and let him lead an anonymous life which he apparently needs. However, something gnaws at me. I cannot simply assume that he doesn't want to have contact anymore. Therefore I very much hope that he will be found and that he wants to get back in touch.

Tracing missing persons

When someone close to you disappears and you contact the police, they will make an assessment of the seriousness of the situation through a questionnaire and, if necessary, Interpol will be approached when the person goes missing abroad. However, be aware, that the police must comply with legal requirements and follow procedures. They cannot always immediately start an investigation if the situation does not meet the following set conditions:

  • The missing individual is not in his or her usual and safe environment.
  • The whereabouts are unknown.
  • It is in the best interest of the missing individual that his or her whereabouts are traced.


Someone's disappearance is not always accompanied by these conditions. It might be possible that you are searching for someone, who is not missing according to these conditions, like Gerald in the case above. Maybe you are looking for an old love, want to find out the existence of a family member, like a half-brother or sister, or you would like to reunite with birth parents.

A missing persons case can have various causes

Here we discuss the most important grounds:

  1. Someone is the victim of an accident or crime. In case of an accident, someone can disappear in the mountains during a hike for example. In the event of a crime, abduction could be involved.
  2. People who willfully disappear are usually on the run for something. This may involve alimony or maintenance evasion or the escape from creditors.
  3. Many people go missing because they simply have not informed anyone about their whereabouts. But it can also be a missing blood relative who is not aware that he is being searched. 

We can help

Whatever the reason for disappearance, we can help you. Because we do not have to comply with the requirements of prosecution services, we can investigate more quickly and more directly than the police in certain cases. Moreover, we are operating on an international basis and used to working across borders. For instance, no less than 250,000 reports of missing persons are made in the United Kingdom annually. A significant number of missing persons are back within a few days already, but a group remains missing for a longer period.

By hiring Borderless Investigations you will speed up the investigation in order to find someone sooner. Also when police face limitations our cross-border search agency could be the solution.

Please note: we are also bound by certain rules. If a missing adult chooses not to disclose his whereabouts, we will not pass on this information to you. Then we can mediate.