Details on how Amber and Silver alerts impact finding missing people

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GREENVILLE, N.C. (WNCT) – A young boy reported missing Monday is back home with his family tonight. 12-year-old Javon Telford was found Tuesday afternoon on Kristin Drive at a park.

Telford was last seen around 10 p.m. Sunday night walking down Kristin Drive.

Incidents similar to this one has 9 On Your Side looking more into the difference between Amber and Silver alerts.

There wasn’t an Amber Alert issued after Telford disappeared because police didn’t think he was in any danger. Just because a child is missing, doesn’t mean it qualifies for an alert.

There are two types of alerts that can come to your phone when a person is missing; an Amber Alert or a Silver Alert.

“You usually get them on your cell phone. I guess usually when someone goes missing or is kidnapped or something like that,” said Lynerd Tillery, a community member.

“An Amber Alert is, I believe, when there’s a missing child,” said Leigh Waggoner, a community member.

The two signals have very specific criteria.

“Seldom do we have a case, you know, where we don’t know if it’s an abduction or if it’s a runaway,” said Captain Rob Williams, of the Greenville Police Department.

Detectives said if you see an Amber Alert, it means a child 17-years-old or younger is in danger. If someone runs away from home, that doesn’t mean they’re in danger.

If you see a Silver Alert, it means an adult is missing, or someone with a mental disability can’t be found.

“We’re asking people to be cognizant, look for that vehicle, look for those people because we need your help,” said Lieutenant Jeff Gordon, of the Highway Patrol/Center for Missing Persons.

North Carolina’s Center for Missing Persons only sends out 7-to-8 Amber alerts a year. They hope the low numbers encourage people to take a second look when they see the alert pop up.

“Think of it as this, it may be an inconvenience for you, but this could be your parent this could be your child. This could be somebody that you know, whether it’s a cousin, or what have you and you would want the same type of response for them if the shoe was on the other foot,” said Gordon.

People who look at their phones and take Amber Alerts seriously is exactly how most of missing people are found.

Detectives said it doesn’t matter what the circumstances are, they investigate every missing person case the same.

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