The woman calls and is frantic. Her 15 year old daughter is missing. She reported it to NYPD missing persons but they’ve done nothing. The daughter, an A student on scholarship at a private school on the upper west side, has been hanging out on the streets while the mother is at work. Now she has not come home for several days. She has the mother’s credit card and the cops told her to cancel it, as this will force her to return. I disagree and tell her that is not a good idea as who knows what it may force her to do- and we need to be able find out what and where the girl is charging. The second day we find out she has charged four bus tickets to Tampa. Since security is tightened after 9/11 the bus company has to see identification for all passengers. Since it is the moms account- the card issuer tells us the names of three males the daughter is traveling with. The next day we see charges in a shabby section of Tampa. And now the mom decides we should go there- find her and bring her back. We leave that night. Me, the mom and the moms sister. The sister is for moral support and doubles as someone the mom can chain smoke with. I had read recently that a music celebrity was arrested in Ybor City- the bar hopping section of Tampa (maybe similar to Greenwich Village) for not obeying a police directive. I know in Florida the cops are strict and it is easy to get arrested if you are not careful. We stop at the police station nearest to the area where the credit card purchases were made. I show my NY State investigator license, and explain the situation with the 15 year old runaway. In spite of the fact that the NYPD has not entered the Missing Person onto the NCIC computer, the cops are very helpful. They check the names we have from the bus tickets the client paid for. One of the kids has been arrested already- in Ybor City- for a similar low level offense. But unlike the celebrity-this guy stays in jail. We decide to visit. At the county jail they are also helpful and bring the kid down for my “legal visit”. I explain to this 18 year old that we came down to bring the girl back and want to know where she is staying. At first he is not cooperating but when I tell him the girl is 15 and he can be charged with “unlawful transport of a Minor across state lines”- something dramatic I pretty much made up- he starts to talk by saying “ I don’t know the address but can tell you how to get there”. We leave the jail with our handwritten map and drive to the place he describes. It is raining hard now and there was no one around. I call the station back and they send a cop over. The police officer is not taking no for an answer. We go to the door and he pounds away until someone looks out and then reluctantly opens the door. We push past and there is the girl sleeping on a couch in the disheveled apt. The mother grabs her hand and yanks her out and into the car. We leave that night for NYC. Case closed.