Finding a Runaway Teen in Queens, Brooklyn, NYC or Connecticut

The phone rings. 

“Investigreat, may I help you?”

“She’s gone!  I need your help! You have to help me find her!” Is the frantic response from the other end of the phone.

“Who’s gone? Tell me exactly what happened” is our response.

“My daughter. I woke up and she’s gone! You have to help me!” is the caller’s answer.

We respond “Ok, we will do everything we can to help.  Let’s start at the beginning and tell me everything.”


It’s every parent’s worst nightmare.  You wake up in your home in Hollis Queens and find your child is gone.  You have no idea where she is.  So you start calling.  The phone is off.  You try checking the tracking app on her phone.  Nothing.  You start to panic.  You call her friends – no one has heard from her or seen her.  You call the police, but it has not been 24 hours.  They tell you to be patient and give them time to show up.  You try to remain calm, but your instinct tells you that something is not right. 


It’s now been 24 hours and you haven’t slept.  You still can’t reach her and no one has heard from her.  The police are now involved, but after the initial report they leave.  Now what do you do?  You call a missing person’s private investigator to help.  


When we get that call, we understand that you are in a panicked state and that what you need is help and someone that will jump in and make this their main focus.  If your child is under 18 they are not entirely on the “radar” yet as far as “official” data searches.  However, if you are experienced as we are with such cases, we know other ways to look for clues.  We will meet with you and find out everything we can.  We will ask for anything that will help, starting with friends.  


We have found that if your child has a close friend or group of friends, that they will have the most valuable information when determining the potential whereabouts of your child.  We will reach out to and meet with both the parents of the friends and the friends themselves to ask them a series of questions that will give us invaluable information.  We go to wherever that may be, whether in Rego Park or Bay Ridge or even Greenwich.  In most cases, if the people interviewed are near where they live, they tend to feel more comfortable which leads to more clues.  We will then take that information to do an in-depth search of all social media to look for “breadcrumbs” of information.  It is these “breadcrumbs” that begin to form a trail that will potentially lead us in the right direction.  When it comes to social media you have to realize that we do not just look at the Facebook page that they let you, their parents, see.  We are extensively trained in OSINT – “Open Source Information Technology”.  This will dig deeper into their social media footprint in order to develop additional clues as to their whereabouts.  The police department does not have the time to do that type of in-depth search.  With something as simple as an email address, it can lead us to all the accounts that they have floating around the internet.  That includes the ones you DON’T know about.  Don’t think that you know everything about your child and what they are up to.  You only know what they want you to know.  Think about when you were a teen.  Did you tell your parents 100% of what you did and about their personal life?  I know I didn’t.  I have yet to meet anyone that has.  


When you talk to their friends, they will not release 100% of the information to you.  Friends, especially teens, have a “confidential” bond that they will not easily break, especially to a parent.  This is where we come in.  Often times we are able to make them more apt to open up to us when they know that we will not “divulge” the information to the parent of the runaway.  But as long as we know it, that is all that matters.  We have found in many cases that once a friend (with their parent present if under 18) understands that this is being told in confidence, that they are more likely to help us gather more “breadcrumbs” to lead us in the right direction in the case.


The main point (and most important) is to first establish if this is a runaway situation or an abduction.  If it is an abduction situation, then we must focus on both your teen and the person that is most likely responsible.  We will need to run data reports on the assumed abductor to start establishing his or her whereabouts with the hope that it will lead us to your teen.  


If your teen is determined to be a runaway, we need to establish if they are acting alone or with someone else.  Again, if we establish that they are with someone else, we need to also conduct a duel search in order to find them.  It could be that your teen comes from Sheepshead Bay, but their friend is from Sunnyside.  We will search in both areas for any leads.  In our experience, most times one of the two will leave more of a trail that we can follow in order to find them.  Either way, we need to collect information.  


The next step after social media searches and interviewing the family and friends, is to start at the most possible spots that they were confirmed to be in recently.  Sometimes you have to go backwards to the last place they were and then go forward from there.  The idea is to start with what you know and work forward from that point.  It takes patience and persistence, but also you need to let us take the lead.  We have done this for many, many years and know how delicate the breadcrumbs can be.  It has to be done in such a way that you do not spook the runaway into running further.  You want to almost “sneak up on them” in order to assure that they remain in that spot long enough for the proper authorities to come and get them and bring them home safely.  


We had a parent once that was so fixated on finding their child that they went ahead of us and “burned” many a bridge before we could get anything.  When we tried to do our investigation, all the parties that would have been more cooperative would not even talk to us.  Now in this particular case, thankfully the teen contacted the mother and came home safely, however, that is not always the case.  It is much better for all concerned if you let us take the lead and do the investigating.  It is a delicate dance when dealing with those involved.  People tend to open up more when they are not on the defensive.


Ultimately, there is something that caused the teen to do this.  Part of what will lead us to them is figuring out what it was that caused them to leave in the first place.  This is very important because once they are back home you don’t want them to do it again.  For example, if you forbid her to be with a certain “friend” then we know to find the “friend” to talk to them next.  Or if that “friend” is too dangerous to approach, then perhaps surveillance on the friend’s residence is a better bet.  


Regardless, we have handled many missing persons and runaway teens and have become experts at “following the breadcrumbs.”  So if you have found yourself in this unfortunate situation and need someone to help you find your teen, you want someone with experience but that also has compassion for your situation.  Reach out to us at Investigreat.  We will be there for you and do our best to help you bring your teen home to you as quickly as possible.  


Investigreat, LLC is a recognized full service Private Investigation Agency that is fully licensed, insured and bonded in Jamaica, Long Island City and CT, handling cases in Queens NY, Brooklyn NY, the Bronx, Manhattan, Long Island NY and all of Connecticut.  Terri Dornfeld, along with her husband Adam, have been working cases from missing persons and surveillance to worker’s compensation and all general investigation services since 1992.

Investigreat LLC | Private Investigators serving New York, including but not limited to:  Jamaica NY,  Long Island City NY,  Brooklyn NY,  Queens NY, Bronx NY, Manhattan NY, Flushing NY, Mineola NY, Valley Stream NY, Westchester County NY, Long Island NY and all areas of Connecticut. 

Office: 718-412-1845 | Text: 718-309-1269

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168-09 Jamaica Ave.
2nd Floor - Office B5 (Rear Entrance)
Jamaica, NY 11432
Office: 718-412-1845
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Office: 718-412-1845
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