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Deputies Locate Missing Child With Autism

For Immediate Release : Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office
Release Number: 23-214



Deputies Locate Missing Child With Autism

The Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office successfully located a missing 9-year-old child with autism on Sunday, November 26, 2023, just before 6 p.m. in Ruskin, with the help of SafetyNet.

SafetyNet is a program used by law enforcement agencies across the country that provides users with a bracelet with GPS. For those who are diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease, autism, dementia, or other cognitive conditions, SafetyNet is a critical tool used to help locate customers should they go missing. The bracelet provides law enforcement with GPS information to quickly find the missing individual.

The HCSO SafetyNet team responded to the family's residence in Ruskin and was able to quickly detect the missing child's Personal Locator Beacon (PLB) signal and begin their search.

Despite weather conditions turning adverse, with rain preventing aviation support, the ground search persisted. At 6:50 p.m., just twenty minutes after the signal was detected, the child was found unharmed, hiding behind a building's A/C unit, just 0.2 miles away from the point last seen.

"I am incredibly proud of our deputies responsiveness and expertise that were instrumental in this successful recovery operation," said Hillsborough County Sheriff Chad Chronister. "Their dedication to ensuring the safety of our community, especially vulnerable individuals like this child, is truly commendable. SafetyNet has proven to be a lifesaving tool, and I couldn't be more thankful for our strong partnership."

Caregivers who wish to sign their loved ones up for SafetyNet can register online by clicking here.