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Missing Children

Who is a missing child?

In California, a missing person is someone whose whereabouts is unknown to the reporting party.

Under  California law, a missing child is a person 17 years of age or younger. (California Penal Code § 277.)

A Missing Child includes any child who may have run away, been taken involuntarily, or may be in need of assistance. It includes a child illegally taken, held or hidden by a parent or non-parent family member. (California Penal Code §§ 277-280).

How to report a missing person…

There is NO waiting period for reporting a person missing. All California police and sheriffs’ departments must accept any report, including a report by telephone, of a missing person, including runaways, without delay and will give priority to the handling of the report.

You can request investigators to enter the child into the National Crime Information Center (NCIC) Missing Persons File. There is no waiting period for entry into the NCIC database.

What to do when your child is missing…

According to,

  • Immediately call your local law enforcement agency. Provide them with your childs:
    • Name
    • Date of birth
    • Height
    • Weight
    • Descriptions of any other unique identifies such as eyeglasses and braces
    • Descriptions of when and where your child went missing
    • What your child was wearing when he/she went missing
  • Request law enforcement enter your child’s name and identifying information into the FBI’s National Crime Information Center Missing Person File
  • If your child is missing from home, search through:
    • Closets
    • Piles of laundry
    • In and under beds
    • Inside large appliances
    • Vehicles – including trunks
    • Anywhere else that  a child may crawl or hide

Published by the US Department of Justice, Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, the following link is a guide written by parents and family members who have experienced the disappearance of a child. It contains their combined advice concerning what you can expect when your child is missing, what you can do, and where you can go for help. It explains the role that various agencies and organizations play in the search for your missing child and discusses some of the important issues that you and your family should consider. Available in English and Spanish.

National Resources

  • National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC)
    699 Prince Street
    Alexandria, VA 22314–3175
    Phone: (800) THE–LOST
    Phone: (800) 826–7653 (TTY)
    Phone:  703–274–3900
    Fax: (703) 274–2200 (Fax)
    Cyber Tipline:
  • U.S. Department of Justice, Office for Victims of Crime
    Office for Victims of Crime
    Office of Justice Program
    U.S. Department of Justice
    810 Seventh Street NW.
    Washington, DC 20531
    Phone: (202) 307–5983
    Fax: (202) 514–6383
  • Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI)
    FBI Headquarters
    Special Investigations and Initiatives Unit
    Crimes Against Children Unit
    935 Pennsylvania Avenue NW.
    Washington, DC 20535
    Phone: 202–324–3666
    Fax: 202–324–2731

FBI Offices in California
FBI Los Angeles
Suite 1700, FOB
11000 Wilshire Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90024
(310) 477-6565

FBI Sacramento
4500 Orange Grove Ave.
Sacramento, CA 95841
(916) 481-9110

FBI San Diego
9797 Aero Drive
San Diego, CA 92123
(858) 565-1255

FBI San Francisco
450 Golden Gate Ave., 13th Floor
San Francisco, CA 94102
(415) 553-7400


  • U.S. Department of Justice, Child Protection Division
    Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention
    Office of Justice Programs
    U.S. Department of Justice
    810 Seventh Street NW.
    Washington, DC 20531
    Phone: (202) 616–3637
    Fax: (202) 307–2819 (Fax)

California Resources

  • The Missing and Unidentified Persons Unit, California Department of Justice
    State of California Department of Justice
    Office of the Attorney General
    P.O. Box 944255
    Sacramento, CA 94244-2550
    Phone: (916) 227-3290

Missing Child Reward Program

You may be eligible to receive an award if you provided information that led to the discovery of a child.
Go to the Government Claims Program website for details or contact the California Government Claims Board at 1-800-777-9229.