Detectives are using a different approach to get the public involved in the search for missing children, like Morgan Hill teen Sierra LaMar.
San Jose-based Child Quest International has created "QR codes" that put missing child posters in your smartphone. The small, black-and-white squares are printed on posters that are hung, so when people pass it, they can scan the code with standard QR-code app on their smartphone. The code leads them to a website with more photos of the missing child, and the number for a hotline to report any tips.
Stephen Watkins, a Toronto man who works with Child Quest came up with the idea to put QR codes on missing child posters. He tells the Mercury News he got the idea when he was a a Walmart and noticed customers passing missing child posters, glancing briefly and moving on. The QR code makes it possible for you to essentially carry that poster with you, so if you see a missing child, you can report it immediately.
QR codes are the latest form of media making their way into the search for missing children. Social media is playing a big role in the search for Sierra LaMar. Her friends and family have been tweeting about search efforts and candlelight vigils, and the KlassKids Foundation has encouraged people to change their Facebook profile pictures to Sierra's photo, to raise awareness of the search online.
For Watkins, using QR codes in the search for missing children is personal. He's using the codes as he searches for his own two sons, who were taken to Poland in 2009 by their mother. Watkins uses small photos of the children embedded in the center of the codes, to humanize them.
The QR codes, and other social media, are now being used around the country in an effort to find missing children.