You've seen it on television and in the movies. You have to wait 24 hours to report someone missing. So is this television and movie trope true in real life?

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Absolutely, positively, not.

Find Law says, "In many shows and movies, people have only 24 or 48 hours to report missing people, but that waiting period doesn't exist in real police offices. As soon as you know an adult or child is missing, report it to your local police."

While Child Find of America says taking action in the first 48 hours is crucial to bringing a child home. I'd assume, to some extent, this would be true for any missing person.

Missouri State Statute 43.401 prohibits any law enforcement agency in Missouri from creating a policy that specifies an automatic time limit that would prevent an immediate investigation of a missing person.

So why is there actually a statute on the books that don't let law enforcement agencies make people wait a day or two to file a missing person report? Sandlin Private Investigators says each hour that goes by decreases the chances that a missing person will be found.

While North American Investigations says it's easier for police to investigate and run down leads and track possible suspects. After 48 hours many times, the trail goes cold and it's harder for police to get leads and follow up.

Even if the missing person isn't a victim of a crime, there could be a medical condition or problem that's contributed to why family or friends can't find the person. Or the person may have some type of health condition that could put their life at risk if they don't have access to medicine.

Do missing persons get found after the first 48 hours? Absolutely. North American Investigations says thousands of folks have been found after 48 hours. It's just harder.

Finally, when it comes to adults, Find Law points out that if police find a missing person whose actions were voluntary they may only tell you the person is safe unless that person gives law enforcement permission to disclose his or her location.

Waiting 24 to 48 hours to report a missing person makes for a good plot point or story setup, but in real life, reporting that missing person as soon as possible is definitely the correct thing to do.

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