Candice and Charles had only been living in Albuquerque, N.M. for about a year when their fourteen year old son Gilbert went to catch a local football game. The plan was for dad to pick him up at a gas station nearby when he was ready to go home. When dad arrived to the agreed location, his son was nowhere to be found. To make matters worse, Gilbert’s phone died and he didn’t remember his home address or his parents’ cell numbers.
Frantic and concerned for their son’s safety and unable to call or text him, they began searching the area. “We went to all these stores, showed them the picture we had of him. No one had seen him,” Candice said. “We were pretty worried.” They promptly alerted the police of the situation.
As a parent, sitting idly by didn’t feel like an option when their son was missing. So, while the family waited for the police to do their work, they began asking friends to post to social media, hoping somebody in the neighborhood may have seen him. “It had already been three or four hours that we couldn’t find him, and it was starting to get dark and I was starting to panic because it’s not like him to to do anything like this,” Candice explained.
But then Candice remembered she could post a message in Neighbors, an app by Ring that provides real-time crime and safety alerts from neighbors, and, in some communities, local police departments. She thought that maybe someone in the neighborhood had seen Gilbert, and could call the number she provided in her post to let her know where he was. And that’s exactly what happened.
Candice posted a photo of her son with a caption explaining the situation. She recalled: “I said, ‘this is my son. He’s been missing, at that point, for about six hours now. This is what he’s wearing. He doesn’t know our phone number or address so if you see him, call me.’” Just thirty minutes later, she got a call from a man who saw her post and recognized her son, and was going to wait with him until she arrived. The seven hour ordeal was finally over. She was reunited with her son, who explained that Google Maps had taken him to a different gas station but since he didn’t have a working phone or their phone numbers, he had no way of communicating that to his parents. He had been waiting at the wrong gas station for hours. Tearfully, Candice thanked the man who helped her find her child.
“I was like, thank God, because if we hadn’t posted it, I really don’t know what would have happened, because he’s very shy and timid so he wouldn’t have asked anyone or said ‘I’m lost.’ I really hate even thinking about what could’ve happened,” said Candice.
What started as every parent’s worst nightmare turned into a storybook ending, thanks to one community rallying together to help those in need. After she was reunited with her son, Candice took the time to update everyone in the Neighbors app who had offered their support. “Thank you all so much!!!,” she posted.
Neighbors app can be downloaded for free on iOS and Android. The feed is hyper-local, featuring alerts, video clips, photos, updates, and comments posted by users who live near you.