SOCIAL MEDIA KEY TO FINDING TEJ
Community support grows as Melbourne student Tej Chitnis, 22, remains missing after disappearing from his Burwood East home on 27th April
After more than nine days since his last sighting, experts say chances of finding Tej Chitnis alive are slim, however that's not stopping the social media campaign to bring him home.
The 'Help Find Tej Chitnis' Facebook page was set up the day after he went missing and has amassed nearly 8000 likes since.
The page has been used to share news and updates on the case as well as provide posters that users can print off and put up in their local area.
Mr Chitnis was last seen leaving his Burwood East home on Wednesday 27th April on his way to the city.
Despite promising he would make it, he did not turn up for his father's birthday dinner that night.
He would normally drive his 2005 VW Golf with registration plate TTF517 to Blackburn train station and park in a nearby street, but a search of the surrounding area has found nothing.
According to police, it is unusual for the person's vehicle to not be located this far into an investigation.
Vodafone found that Mr Chitnis' phone was switched off at 11.26am on the same morning he was last seen, but a ping was detected somewhere near the town of Healesville twenty minutes later.
Both his phone and bank account have not been used since then.
Senior Constable Randall said Forest Hill Police Station were first given the case but as the investigation expanded it was handed on to a location with more resources.
"The detectives at Box Hill [Police Station] have taken carriage of the investigation. Detective Sergeant Riley is in charge of it" she said.
However the police were unwilling to provide any more details on the case.
"All public domain information is available on the police website, in press releases already and via the Victoria Police Facebook page", she said.
"The detectives at Box Hill [Police Station] have taken carriage of the investigation" - Forest Hill Senior Constable Randall
It is unknown why Mr Chitnis would have been in Healesville as he had no obvious connections to the area.
What has concerned authorities is the dense forest, mountainous terrain and major dam that surround the town which makes the search even harder according to Acting Convener of Bush Search and Rescue Victoria (BSAR) Eric Krista.
BSAR was established to help with searches for lost people in bushland areas and the snow fields of Victoria.
Mr Krista said that despite the pleas made by the public, the organisation would only act when instructed by Victoria Police.
"No matter what, we are always called out by Victoria Police. We do not activate unless they call us. And we have not been contacted at the moment" he said.
"No matter what, we are always called out by Victoria Police. We do not activate unless they call us. And we have not been contacted at the moment" - Acting Convener of BSAR Eric Krista
Secretary of Search and Rescue Dogs Australia (SARDA), Julie Cowan, said their organisation, which provides specially trained dogs for searches like missing persons, had similar protocols.
"Legally we can't do it on our own sort of back. We have to be directed by the police. We are just a capability that they (Victoria Police) haven’t got. We have a different capability to the police dog squad – we specialise in bush searches" Ms Cowan said.
"We have a different capability to the police dog squad – we specialise in bush searches" - Secretary of Search and Rescue Dogs Australia Julie Cowan
The organisers of the 'Help Find Tej Chitnis' Facebook page were asked for comment, but did not respond before publication.