Busted...with an Assist from NCIC

NCIC Off-Line Search Helps Marshals Find Missing 4-Year-Old in Danger

November 1, 2011
Originally published in the September 2011 edition of the CJIS Link, Volume 13, Number 3

On February 25, a U.S. marshal in Pennsylvania contacted the National Crime Information Center (NCIC) Operations and Policy Unit (NOPU), indicating that sometime during the previous 2 weeks, a noncus­todial parent in Pennsylvania kidnapped her 4-year-old child. She threatened to shoot the child and herself if law enforcement interfered. The marshals suspected the pair would travel to Florida and provided the NOPU with a New Jersey license plate associate with the suspect’s vehicle. They requested that the NOPU perform an off-line search for any activity on the license plate.

The search revealed that an officer in Utah queried the license plate during a traffic stop on February 19. The NOPU returned the search results the same day. Marshals in Pennsylvania notified marshals in Utah about the encounter. Marshals there quickly located the car at the home of the suspect’s sister. The marshals later followed the suspect and hostage to a gas station, apparently preparing to leave town. When the suspect went inside to pay, the marshals safely removed the child and retrieved a loaded firearm from the vehicle before arresting the woman.

The marshals in Pennsylvania had no indication that the suspect would be in Utah and would not have focused their efforts there without the NOPU’s assistance.

Off-line search

For an off-line search, (NOPU) employees conduct a search of three sets of NCIC records: active records, purged records, and the transaction log. The search identifies matches to prior inquiries made to the NCIC as far back as 1990. Results are generated in a matter of minutes.