A 7-11 store in Orlando, Florida, is part of the statewide Silver Alert program.
When seniors go missing in several US states, a clever program immediately shows a photo and details of the missing person on thousands of store lottery terminals.
Called a Silver Alert, the program sends an immediate message to lottery retailers statewide. Retailers print and post copies of the message in their store.
John Happy of Polk County was the first person found under the partnership between the 6-year-old Silver Alert program and the Florida lottery. PHOTO: WTSP
Silver Alerts are issued for missing individuals age 65 or older, or who are age 18 or older with mental impairments.
Doris Rice, a clerk at an Orlando 7-Eleven, said when she sees a Silver Alert on her store's terminal, she prints it out and puts it on the counter.
An example of a printed-out Silver Alert.
The machine won't sell a lottery ticket until the Silver-Alert message is printed, Rice said, although the missing person's picture appears only on a screen the clerk sees.
"It's a great program," she said. "If I was missing, I'd want somebody to care."
The Wisconsin Silver Alert program was launched in 2013 and has been a great success.
The idea to use the terminals arose because older people reported missing had been driving around lost and sometimes asked for directions when they stopped for gas, said Ashley Marshall, a spokeswoman for the Florida Department of Elder Affairs.
According to the Silver Alert program’s coordinator, since the program started in August 2014, 18 Silver Alerts have been issued. Fifteen of those 18 alerts ended with the missing person being reunited with their loved ones.
The average amount of time between when someone goes missing and when they’re found safe is about 16 hours.
READ MORE: Orlando Sentinel