The idea of the disappearance of a loved one is alarming under any circumstances, but when someone we care about goes missing overseas, the prospect becomes even more daunting. The reality is that most people don’t have a clear sense of what steps to take when somebody vanishes. Whether a family member, a friend, a partner, or a colleague, a clear course of action can help you safeguard their wellbeing. If your loved one goes missing overseas, the missing persons investigations team here at Lauth Investigations recommends taking the following steps.
Try To Make Direct Contact
Your gut may be telling you that something is wrong, but all sorts of things can cause a person to go radio-silent abroad—including time differences, poor communications infrastructure, or losing their phone and luggage. Attempting to contact them through every avenue available will clarify the situation, so try to reach out by phone and text, by email, and on social media. Also look for any public conversations they have had on social media with others that will indicate all is well.
Contact Others Who May Be Aware of Their Whereabouts
Reach out to friends, travel companions, and colleagues who may have more information or be aware of the missing person’s movements. If a group were travelling together, reach out to the families of others to see if they have been in contact too. Consider contacting hotels, local venues, travel agents, and airlines. While these third-party professionals may not be able to share details with you, they will be able to prompt your loved one to make contact when they see them, and will be able to share information with the authorities if they later become involved.
Reaching Out To the Authorities
When someone goes missing overseas, it is vital to file a missing persons report both with local authorities, and with the authorities of your/their home country. If the person in question is a U.S. citizen, you can also contact the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate. Embassy and consulate staff will be able to advise on the best way to locate a person in their area, and will also be able to check local reports for hospitalizations or arrests, and connect directly with local authorities and organizations. If the person missing overseas is a minor, or considered vulnerable in some way, the country in question may be able to issue an Amber Alert or equivalent. Prepare to provide as much information as possible, including:
Place and date of birth
All known itineraries and plans, past and future
Overseas contact details
Names and contact information for known friends and associates
What Else To Do When Someone Is Missing Overseas
When a loved one is missing overseas, it is easy to feel powerless. However, there are lots of other steps that can be taken. You can create a social media campaign to raise awareness of the missing status of your loved one. You can also contact local media outlets with details and photographs so that they can help you raise awareness. If you choose to travel where the missing person was last seen, consider if you will need help from an interpreter, and what resources you will require when you get there.
Some travel insurance policies cover search and rescue, so consider if your loved one may have a policy that you can initiate a claim from. Explore local organizations that provide support for missing person investigations—these may be able to advise you on further resources and strategies such as offering rewards within a culture that is potentially unfamiliar.
When concerns run high—and certainly when local authorities are unhelpful—turning to an international private investigators firm with missing persons specialists ready to go out in the field can be indispensable. Here at Lauth Missing Persons, we offer a highly skilled and experienced team with just the skill set required to locate someone missing overseas. If you need help in locating your loved one, contact our team today.
As missing person experts here at Lauth Missing Persons, we know that each year that passes makes it increasingly important that we safeguard our children against threats that may lurk behind a screen, just as much as those out in the everyday world. With the internet opening the back door into their lives, parents must stay up to date on ways to protect children online.
Today’s children are more computer literate than any generation that came before them. Most toddlers master their parent’s smartphones with dizzying speed, and the Covid-19 pandemic certainly transformed devices into necessary portals for staying in touch with friends and continuing their education. Framed by the reality of modern life, how can parents allow their kids to enjoy the bounties of the digital era without exposure to the risks?
Set Parental Controls on Your Devices
There are a range of digital tools available to parents who want to protect their children online. Many web browsers and sites offer these services for free—for example Google’s SafeSearch. Content filters like SafeSearch prevent accidental discovery of violent or sexually explicit content online, while usage controls allow you to time-limit or prevent certain types of device-use. Parental monitoring tools help you keep an eye on which sites or apps your children access. While a variety of free tools can be harnessed, many parents take comfort in using paid parental control software, for an iron clad level of security.
Teach Your Children to Be “Share Aware”
Few children could have any frame of reference for how their sharing their information can put them in harm’s way. Details ranging from location information to photographs, email addresses, phone numbers, schools, and even private thoughts can each become a vulnerability in the wrong hands. As such, teaching your children to be “share aware” can help them danger in the future. Everything that goes out online is known as a “digital footprint”, and it’s difficult to know how far it will travel. If they wouldn’t share that information or image with a total stranger, then they should never post it online—even privately—and if they feel unsure, they can always ask you before they click.
Talk to Your Children About Who They Connect With Online
Parents always vet who their children spend time with in the real world, so it stands to reason that they do so online. Without the life experience to teach them otherwise, children can be naive about who they trust, and what they believe. An important part of protecting children online is discussing their digital social circles, and educating them on what constitutes bullying or unacceptable behavior. Teach your children to be social media savvy, including how to block unwanted contacts, and report inappropriate or offensive posts so that they can protect themselves and others.
Lead By Example and Keep the Dialogue Going
Modeling courteous, safety-conscious, and responsible online etiquette can influence your children more than you know. Be sure to set a good example, including limiting your own screen time. Encourage free conversation with your children about what they do online, and ask them to show you the different sites and apps that they enjoy. Keep screens and devices in shared spaces, or check in regularly when your child is using a device in another room. By making all things virtual a shared experience, you are far more likely to be the first call if your child ever feels unsafe online.
The missing person investigations team here at Lauth Missing Persons often encounter families who are facing their worst parental fears. To combat these moments, we encourage focusing on safety awareness from an early age, protecting children online, and staying informed about contemporary risks. If you have reason to doubt the safety of your child, the team at Lauth Missing Persons may be able to assist. Learn more about what we do, or contact us today.
You may have heard horror stories about outdoorsy, adventurous individuals who visit a national park and mysteriously disappear. This is because many hikers and explorers fail to take certain safety precautions before making their visit.
Many of us crave the freedom of getting out into nature, but the beautiful wilderness of a national park undoubtedly comes with its own dangers. Factors such as unpredictable weather patterns, dangerous wild animals, navigation challenges, and even other human beings can be huge safety risks. Today we’re going to talk about how you can mitigate these risks before you visit. Our missing person investigators know how important safety is when it comes to taking a hike or even a leisurely walk through the wilderness and in the case of a national park, preparation and caution are the first measures taken in ensuring you return home.
Do Your Research
Unless you’re a rugged local, there is a good chance that you won’t be familiar with the hazardous animals native to the National Park in question, and the rules and regulations that have been put in place to keep adventurous visitors safe. Jump online to familiarize yourself with the terrain, wildlife, and best routes—picking up a map as you go.
Know the Weather Forecast
Alongside reading general guides on the National Park’s trails, wildlife, and conditions, don’t forget to check for weather updates before you leave. Getting the latest weather report can help you avoid getting caught in a freak storm, while checking local bulletins and social media pages will alert you any worrying wildlife sightings, trail collapses, facility closures, and algal blooms that you should know about.
Know Your Limits
One of the most common pitfalls that leads people to go missing in National Parks is simply biting off more than they can chew. Understanding the distance that you are hoping to cover, the challenges of the terrain in question, and what is realistic for you to achieve is vital for keeping you and your traveling companions safe out in the wilderness. In addition, share a final itinerary plan with a friend or family member before you set off, so that someone knows at least where you should be along the way. If you can share your phone’s location with someone you trust, it might just be a life-saving measure.
Bring The Right Clothing
Heading up into the mountains on a sunny day might seem like a call for shorts, a t-shirt, and some sturdy tennis shoes, but never forget that wild-landscape weather can change in the blink of an eye. Strong and supportive footwear will keep you mobile as you move into remote areas, and carrying a full selection of layers will mean that you can keep yourself warm, dry, and alive if conditions get dicey.
Stay On the Trails
While National Parks invest heavily in maintaining safe trails for public use, it remains necessary to be alert to where the trail ends, and peril begins. Between the sheer scale of trying to mark every trail and the aim to interrupt the environment as little as possible, it is expected that visitors remain self aware. While the promise of a better view around an untrodden corner might seem tempting, crumbling rock faces, deep canyons, and slippery scree slopes can make deviation dangerous.
Respect Animal Life
Each National Park issues its own guidance on sensible distances to maintain between yourself and its native animal populations. While Yellowstone recommends staying at least 100 yards from wolves and bears, make that distance even greater if you suspect the animal in question may have young in tow. Do your homework on how to behave in proximity to wildlife; pick up some bear spray and stay in groups when traveling into bear country.
Carry Food and Water Responsibly
Whatever the duration of your planned trip, aim to carry double the water you should need. There is no way of knowing if the contents of waterways within a National Park are safe to drink, and if something goes wrong you’ll be covered. As far as food is concerned, keep everything edible under wraps, and never feed animals or leave your leftovers behind. Animals who become used to seeking food from humans may become a threat to you or other visitors.
Bring a First Aid and Emergency Kit
Taking a first aid kit with you when hitting the trails is just common sense. If you’re going further from the beaten path, consider adding emergency flares and survival equipment, and ensure that at least one of your party is first aid trained.
Take Your Safety Seriously
Here at Lauth Missing Persons, we know that a lack of awareness of the world’s dangers can result in serious consequences. While our missing persons investigations team are dedicated to finding those who have vanished, we’d much prefer that you take precautions and kept yourself safe in the first place.
If you ever need help finding a missing person, our team of missing person specialists are ever-ready to take action. Learn more about how we can help at www.lauthmissinstg.wpengine.com
The family of a Pennsylvania man who has been missing for nearly 10 years finally has answers in his disappearance after his remains were found in a wooded area not too far from home. Authorities have confirmed the human skeletal remains found in the woods belong to Christopher Story. Story was last seen on August 11, 2013 at his residence in New Castle, PA at approximately 11:00 PM. He was 40 years old. According to the FBI missing person report, Story was last seen wearing a “white t-shirt, khaki shorts, a dark ball cap, and black shoes.” The report also indicates he left behind important personal belongings, like his wallet, phone charger, and medication. Without that medication, the FBI warned, Story “may appear agitated and may also appear confused or suffer hallucinations.”
The New Castle Police Detective Bureau worked in tandem with the FBI and a team of K9 cadaver dogs to search the area where Story was found and the Lawrence County Coroner’s Office was able to identify Christopher Story’s body by comparing the remains to his X-rays and identifying medical characteristics consistent with his history. The FBI did release information at the time of his disappearance that Story had “surgical pins/rods in his spine, and may walk with a limp.”
Even nearly a decade later, the explanation of the machinations of Story’s disappearance and his ultimate fate are still under investigation. Following the confirmation of his identity, his remains are being sent out for forensic testing in order to determine the manner of death. In a Facebook post shared by the New Castle Police Department on Wednesday, authorities said “The NCPD has continued to aggressively investigate this case since that date attempting to find Chris Story and determine what happened to him.”
Unless purposefully setting out to drop off the radar, nobody jumps on an airplane with the intention of becoming a missing person overseas. However, it is vital to remember that US citizens can and do disappear abroad, far from home, and without the critical support networks that support their everyday safety. Acknowledging this fact doesn’t have to mean skipping all of the incredible destinations on your bucket list. Instead, there are a number of safe travel tips that you can take to minimize the risk of your dream trip becoming a nightmare.
Through our work as international missing persons investigators at Lauth Missing Persons, we often venture overseas to pick up the trail of those whose loved ones are deeply concerned. By following the tips below, you can avoid becoming a worrying statistic—or warranting a call from your family to our team.
1. Research Your Destination and Stay Ahead of Danger
One of the first and most crucial safe travel tips is research. While danger and criminality can be lurking anywhere in the world, some destinations are much more dangerous than others. This makes it vital to do your research when planning any trip so that you can better understand the risks.
Investigate your intended destination online, including discovering if danger is more elevated in certain local areas or at certain times. Where possible, subscribe to live updates and travel advice, and monitor the local news so you’ll know if the situation on the ground changes. Whether traveling as a tourist or on a business trip, some locations may warrant a security risk assessment or professional support on arrival.
2. Create an Itinerary and Plan to Communicate With Loved Ones
Far too often, when we begin our work to find a missing US citizen abroad, we find that they didn’t communicate their most recent movements with their family or friends. This is a recipe for disaster if something untoward happens. In contrast, simple communication can dramatically increase your safety.
With this in mind, create an itinerary for your closest friends or family members and update it promptly if plans change. Communicate frequently, sharing details such as where you are staying and planned day trips, or even if something unusual has occurred.
3. Avoid Routine and Don’t Overshare Publicly
When it comes to safe travel tips, it doesn’t get more universal than oversharing on social media. Criminals are always on the lookout for those made vulnerable by routine behaviors. For example, a tourist who habitually takes a dark shortcut or visits the ATM at the same time each evening is an easy target for express kidnapping, a term that describes holding someone hostage and forcing them to withdraw money from their bank account.
You can protect yourself when traveling by mixing up your daily habits. You can also mitigate the risk of being targeted by keeping any social media or blog posts that share your location or plans private for as long as you’re in the area.
4. Prioritize Security and Backup Your Essentials
At times, a missing person abroad is simply someone who has lost all means of communication. When in an area with limited internet and cell phone coverage, losing your bag with documentation and financial means can be a crisis in the making.
This makes it pertinent to safely store essentials wherever possible and keep spare copies of travel documentation and ID in a secondary location. Keep valuables out of sight whenever around strangers and keep hard copies of crucial contact phone numbers.
5. Maintain Your Vigilance
Keeping your wits about you when traveling is always the strongest tactic when it comes to remaining safe. At times, this will mean choosing a better-lit street on the way home, while at others it will mean avoiding going out altogether.
Be vigilant about what’s going on around you, and if in doubt, refer to the old adage “If you feel threatened, leave. If in doubt, get out.” Always connect with those you trust if you feel unsafe traveling and consider reaching out to local police or your nearest US Embassy if you need urgent support.
What to Do If a Loved One is Missing Abroad
Whether you lose track of a traveling companion or grow concerned about a family member who is currently overseas, it is important to take any missing US citizen case seriously. Discover more about what can be done next on our free missing persons resource page, or reach out to the Lauth team if you would like the expert assistance of an international missing persons investigator.