Janet Zappala, Bobbie Eng
California has a new system called Silver Alert to help find missing individuals 65 or older who go missing and are believed to be at risk. Much like the Amber Alert, the Silver Alert hopes to locate the missing by sending out electronic notifications regionally or statewide. Janet Zappala reports from Van Nuys for the NBC4 News at 5 p.m. on January 2, 2013.
The first-ever subject of California's new Silver Alert system for missing older adults was found safe Wednesday.
Robert Grappi, an 82-year-old man from the Sacramento area, had gone missing Monday after leaving his home in Elk Grove.
Authorities had issued a Silver Alert for Grappi on Tuesday after he was reported missing. Elk Grove police said he has shown signs of dementia.
He was found Wednesday morning during a vehicle stop by police in Nevada County, where his son lives, according to the Sacramento Bee.
The Silver Alert notification system went into effect with the beginning of the year under a new state law.
Similar to the Amber Alert system for abducted children, it's meant to inform the public when a person 65 or older is reported missing.
The alerts will only be issued when the person has gone missing under unexplained or suspicious circumstances, and that person is in danger because of age, health or other conditions that may put them in peril, according to the law.
"Sometimes with older senior citizens, it's a medication issue," CHP spokesman Officer Ming Hsu said. "If they're not taking their meds ... we want to be able to locate them, and we don't want to wait that 48 hours for the information to get out.
Another Silver Alert was issued midday Wednesday for a man who had gone missing from the Central Coast, NBC affiliate KSBW reported. Raymond Beach Smith, had gone missing Dec. 30 from his home in Marina, between Santa Cruz and Monterey.
Under the system, the California Highway Patrol is required to assist local law enforcement agencies investigating the disappearance, and to ask news media and the public for help in find missing elderly individuals who are thought to be at risk.
Unlike Amber Alerts, Silver Alerts do not show up on electronic highway signs.
"Increasing the awareness. Letting them know, and getting everybody involved in helping to locate these seniors is a huge need," according to Anna Swift, with ONEgeneration.
The law creating Silver Alerts passed both houses of the California Legislature on a unanimous vote.