The past few years have seen a pretty intense spike in true crime interest (although it’s always been around, that’s a story for a different article). Many people credit this to the general lack of safety that living through decades of war has inspired in the public. In order to combat this feeling (in the few day-to-day ways they can), people turn to true crime in order to feel prepared for any and every situation. Most of the time, it’s pretty unrealistic – there’s not a lot you can do to prepare for your ex-wife hitting you with her car. However, there are some nuggets of wisdom that come from true crime media, and one, in particular, that is not only reassuring but practical as well.
Crime Junkie is a weekly podcast hosted by Ashley Flowers and Brit Prawat. Flowers, being on the board of directors for Crime Stoppers of Central Indiana, is a big advocate for being your own advocate. Their motto is “Be weird, Be rude and Stay Alive!” and one of their most referenced ways of doing so is by creating an “If I Go Missing” Folder.
I know what you’re thinking; what kind of morbid article did I just run into? Why would I prepare for a horrifying instance like that? Well, buddy, because if you don’t, things can get really difficult for your loved ones. If you consume any true crime media, you know that there are tons of instances when a victim goes missing and their family has to wait days, weeks, even months before they can fill out a missing person report, gain access to their cell phone or bank records, let alone potentially use their phone’s locator to find their last location. Nine times out of ten, unless the people who are looking for you are directly named on every single one of your accounts, the police have to file a warrant to gain access to these accounts, and those can take a long time to process.
The purpose of an “If I Go Missing” Folder is to circumvent the bureaucracy of law enforcement and put the power directly in the hands of the people who care the most about you. So, what should you even put in an “If I Go Missing” Folder? A good first step is to download the actual Crime Junkie “If I Go Missing” guidebook. This is basically a 27-page workbook where you can fill out all of the information they think you should have in your folder.
This includes: general information; physical appearance; a page for your fingerprints; medical information; modes of transportation; relationships; typical workday; frequently visited locations; financial information; communication account log-ins; previous addresses; recent pictures of your face, tattoos, identifying scars, car; copies of your birth certificate, drivers license (or ID), passport, Social Security Card, marriage license, medication list, insurance documents and even a map of your typical daily route; the contact information for the law enforcement agencies whose jurisdictions you would be in depending on your location; and finally an acknowledgement page where you print and sign your name.
So, okay, that seems like a lot. But having that information readily accessible can not only save your loved ones some headaches, but it can also expedite any time that would have been taken up trying to get warrants or figure out how you get to school every day. There are multiple stories of people being rescued from car crashes, accidents, and even actual kidnappings using phone location apps like Find My Friends or Find My iPhone.
One of the most important parts of this folder, however, isn’t what goes inside of it – it’s who you tell about the folder. Depending on your relationship with your parents, your significant other, and your closest friends, you should be pretty specific about who you share the location & even the existence of this folder with. In truth, it’s probably safest to tell multiple people where the folder is, and even create multiple copies (both physical and digital). Taking the fear of the unknown into your own hands is a powerful thing. Although it might seem morbid and weird to create a folder that will only be used if something bad happens to you, it’s pretty much the same thing as writing a will, except it’s a lot more helpful and could, potentially, save your life.