what happens if you ask the cops to do a "welfare-check" on a 40-yr-old neighbor?

Pre-emptive disclaimer: I am at least a week or two away from becoming “overly concerned”, so I don’t want this to sound like I’m fixing to hit “Submit New Thread”, and then immediately call the cops.

My scenario: typical neighborhood out in the 'burbs, early 40’s myself, live in the house next door to a really good-looking single girl, who I haven’t seen in almost a week. She and I barely know each other (by first name only), and usually only share small-talk whenever we’re both outside at the same time.

We’ve never exchanged numbers, even in a neighborly way (i.e. “hey, if I’m at work, and you see that my dog got out, please give me a call”). She’s never seen the inside of my house, nor have I seen hers.

Other than the fact that we live next door to each other (and neither of us have kids), we don’t know anything about the other one. I have no idea if she has family living in town, or not.

All the signs point to her being on vacation, but with each passing day, something “just doesn’t feel right”. Her porch light has stayed on constantly for at least a week now, which doesn’t seem typical.

Newspapers piling up in her driveway since last week; our “trash day” is Friday, and her bin just sat around at the edge of her curb from Thursday night until Tuesday afternoon, when one of the other neighbors must have rolled it up to the base of the garage door (we’re all front-entry garages here).

As mentioned, I’m sure the most likely scenario is that she’s on vacation, and some irresponsible neighbor/friend is supposed to be tending to her house to make it look “lived in”, and will probably come pick up all the newspapers (and roll the trash-bin into the garage), the day before she comes back in town.

So at this point I’m minding my own business, gonna let the next several days go by, and assume this will all “come together” in the end.

So getting into the “hypothetical”, if this continues for another week or two, then what?

I suppose my first option as the genuinely concerned neighbor would be to call the non-emergency police number, and just say “hey, you don’t know me, she doesn’t know me, maybe this is all nothing, but here’s the deal…” (and then point them to the first dozen paragraphs of this thread).

If I ask them to do a “welfare-check”, then what happens? Do they ring the doorbell, and if they don’t receive an answer, just start battering down the door?

What happens if they don’t find anything - do they “open an investigation”, or just file the police report to account for their time that morning, then forget about it? Who pays for the damages - them? her? me, for making the call in the first place?

Or, God-forbid they find her in there, passed away due to suspicious circumstances - then I assume I would become “Prime Suspect # 1”, correct? Not to sound like a complete ass, but that’s not something I’d really want to “get involved” with - the remote possibility of “come down to the station, take a polygraph test, blah blah blah”.

Just trying to figure out what would be the right thing to do, if this continues for another week or two. And perhaps more interestingly, just read responses to the basic hypothetical “what do cops do, during a welfare-check?”.


Just to clarify, when I said “single”, all I know is that she’s not married - I have no clue if she’s seeing anyone or not.

First, be a neighbor.

If the trash can is left out a day after trash pickup, move it in for her.

If the newspapers are piling up a day or two, pick them up. Keeping your neighbor’s house up in in your interest.

Check her mailbox. If it is filling up, empty it. If not, then she probably has had her mail stopped. Knock on her door every evening. If she is home, tell her about the trash cans and newspapers, and give her her mail. Ask her to let you know if she is going to be away in the future so that you can keep an eye out. If she doesn’t appreciate it (and I can’t imagine why she would), she will let you know.

Where I am from, this is known as being neighborly. Do it. If it persists for over a week, let the authorities know. If you are honest, it won’t be a problem. If you try to hide things, whether it is you that calls or someone else, they will wonder why you didn’t get involved.

Wow - already working on your alibi?

I’ve been curious too as to how these welfare checks are handled. I think a week is too soon to be worried about a young single woman. I don’t know how long I’d wait. It’s not like there is much to be gained - and I’d probably be overly concerned that they would find out I was worried after not seeing them for that short a period of time.

Could try and look at property records if she owns the place and then stalk her on Facebook. If it is a rental - then call the landlord. Do you have an HOA? Some of them have records where you basically give emergency contact info (just for cases like this - well not exactly - but close enough).

I’m pretty sure your chances of being falsely accused of murder are pretty small. It makes me wonder if this ever happens - someone is overly concerned about it and then investigates - tries to bury a body or something so that they don’t get falsely accused.

My mom had that done to me once because she couldn’t get ahold of me for a few days because I was minding my own damn business. They came banging on my door (police are incapable of knocking) and then when I didn’t answer because I don’t answer people banging on my door when I’m not expecting anyone, they came around to my sliding door which had a broken lock, so they came in that way (I told them to get the hell out, man I was pissed, seriously my mom had NO reason to worry). If not for that, I don’t *think *they would have come in. I don’t see how they could legally break in when there’s no real evidence of anything wrong, but I could be wrong about that. I think if you call, they’ll just knock, look in windows and around the yard and see if they see anything suspicious, and check for unlocked doors and windows, and then just leave if they don’t see anything.

Dude you seriously do that too much :frowning:

Sorry. But not lately though!

I have created a flowchartfor you to use before you submit posts.

Uh, I’d highly recomend you NOT empty someone elses mailbox.

Sooo… let’s examine the evidence:

Well, duh…you’re right. It’s not typical---- for somebody who is home.
But for somebody who left for a vacation and accidently left the porch light on, what the hell do you expect? It’s not only “typical”–it’s a fricking law of physics. The light’s gonna stay on for----gasp!----the entire time she’s gone.

Oh my god!!! Somebody left their bin out!!! and then somebody else decided to be a good neighbor!!!

Well, nothing is 100% for sure, but this seems pretty close. Your evidence for anything else is pretty thin.

Good idea.

HAHAHA :smiley: Cannot. Stop. Laughing.

Perhaps you should also chart how often Ambi posts “nm” to compare to the hits that link got, so we can see if it helps?

Welfare checks are pretty routine calls. You can just call the nonemergency number of your local cop shop and briefly explain your concerns. They’ll try calling and/or stopping by, and they might even have family contact information if it comes down to that. If something did happen to her inside her house, you’d hardly be Suspect #1: that position would be reserved for her current or ex-boyfriend.

When she gets back from vacation, you could mention that you were a little concerned and suggest that she arrange for newspaper pickup, etc., on future occasions. I have nothing to contribute to your potential alibi ;).

Stay out of her mailbox, though. That’s not just illegal; it’s also downright creepy.

I know this is going to sound like a totally radical idea but…have you tried knocking on her door to see what happens? Maybe she is on vacation, or maybe she’s curled up with her 23rd pint of Ben and Jerry’s because she just broke up with her boyfriend, or maybe she had a stroke and died. Who the heck knows? But there’s at least one step before calling for a wellness check, and that’s being neighborly and checking yourself. You don’t have to break in (please don’t break in) but at least see if you can verify that she’s not just working nights now so you’re not seeing her during the day.

As for what happens when you call for a wellness check, it really varies very much. Depends on the person doing the check, the person missing, their age and known medical conditions and how realistic concerns are. Generally speaking, police won’t break and enter unless there’s a smell or a body visible from a window, but they will knock, and will perhaps walk around the house to find an open door.

Please don’t take her mail without prior arrangements. The mail carrier can stop delivering if the box fills up and hold her mail at the post office. Not your call to make.

But being worried that you’ll be suspect #1 in the event she’s been murdered…that’s crazyland talk. Stop it. Life isn’t an episode of Perry Mason.

I agree with the suggestion to pick up her newspapers. It’s possible that she was called away very quickly for a family emergency and didn’t have time to make mail and newspaper arrangements.

Do you have a FB account? You might try searching her name on FB and seeing if she has an account. If she does, you can send her a friend request. That will give you a dialogue box where you can type a message that she will see when she gets the friend request. I’d say, “Hey, I’m your neighbor to the left, and noticed your newspapers and mail piling up. Hope everything is OK. Let me know if you need any help. Happy to help.”

Have you tried knocking on her door? I’m the least neighborly person in the world, but I think I would probably try that before calling the police…

Well, around here, NOT emptying a neighbor’s mailbox when it was obvious that it was filling and that the neighbor was not attending to it would be considered a sign of animosity towards said neighbor and towards the neighborhood in general. * Around here, folks care about one another; that’s what makes us different than most places.*

Now, you have to mix in some common sense. If the mailbox in a locked, gang mailbox that is common in more populated areas, don’t try to pick the lock. If it is a curbside/porch mounted box and there are just a few letters in it, leave them be. But, if the box is stuffed full so that you can tell by walking by, I can’t imagine anyone would have a problem with a neighbor taking care of things. If the said neighbor complained, well, that’s good news since it means she is OK.

The OP doesn’t say what part of the country (I assume US) they are, but in most areas of the country I have visited (which is most of it), people appreciate their neighbors looking out for them when they are away, which includes picking up the mail, if necessary.

OP didn’t mention seeing any mail, and did mention that he lives in the burbs; the most likely scenario here is that it’s a curbside box, in which case there is no way you are going to see it “obviously overstuffed,” because the door of the mailbox will be closed, and if the mail piles up to the point that the mailman can’t get the door closed, he will start holding the mail and leave a note for the resident to come pick it up at the post office. Source: My husband is a mail carrier. I agree with everyone else that picking up someone else’s mail and keeping it at your house is inappropriate and borderline creepy. Maybe in your neighborhood it works, but your neighborhood is not typical.

Newspapers and garbage can, no problem.

And yeah, I’ll agree that going over and knocking on her door seems like an obvious first step here.

If it is a vacation, then when she gets back, the next time you see her you might want to just say that you noticed it seemed she was gone for a while, and next time you’d be happy to pick up her newspapers and stuff for her if she wants.

Oh, and it just occurred to me, it might be worthwhile to just peek in the mailbox really quick (please don’t remove anything) - if there’s no mail at all in there, that’s an excellent sign that she called the post office to have her mail stopped for the week.

Pretty sure it’s illegal in most of the US to go futzing around with someone else’s mailbox without permission. Regardless, it would seriously piss me off if one of my neighbors went and got my mail without me asking. So yeah, someone does have a problem with a neighbor taking care of it, and would not appreciate my neighbors doing a damn thing for me while I’m away. If I didn’t take care of it post-going-away, it’s fine without anyone else deciding what’s best for my yard/mailbox/newspapers.

I don’t think I’d do too well in your neighborhood; one of the things I like most about my current neighborhood is that there aren’t a lot of neighbors, and we all mind our own business.

If you empty her mailbox, where are you going to put the mail? Keep it? That’s illegal. Put it on her porch? What does a pile of mail on a porch mean to the neighborhood? Knock on her door to give her the mail? If you did that in the first place, nothing else matters.

Personally I’d be pissed if someone took it upon themselves to gather up my mail. That’s the mail carrier’s job, and my pet-sitter’s if I specifically aske her to.

FWIW, I had to leave with virtually no notice when my Mom died. My parents were overseas and got the 'flu, Mom died and Dad nearly did. My sister and I were away for a month while Dad recuperated in the hospital, and we left our houses 24 hrs after getting my cousin’s call. We are both married so there was someone home to keep the house going, but if I’d lived alone I would have packed a bag and left. Trash and newspapers and mail were the last thing I was thinking about.

Have you checked with any other neighbors? Maybe she’s friendlier with one of them and they know something.