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Why police can’t always do more when it comes to runaway teens

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CHESTERFIELD COUNTY, Va. -- Annette Creech is relieved her 14-year-old daughter, who ran away and was missing for four days, is now home. But Creech is still concerned about how she said police handled her daughter's case.

"We expect police to be able to help us and to have them step in and fill in the gaps where we can't," she said.

Creech said she and her husband did a lot of the leg work to track down the 14-year-old girl's whereabouts through a social media site she used to post pictures.

"We were able to actually pinpoint where she was and then we would relay the information to the police and they said that they couldn't do anything about it because they couldn't confirm it," Creech explained.

CLICK HERE: Missing Chesterfield  teenager  returns home

CLICK HERE: Missing Chesterfield teenager returns home

We questioned Chesterfield Police about the way officers handle runaway cases.

A spokesperson said they report the case to a state database, follow up on leads and assign the case to a school resource officer until it's resolved.

The Creech family said more should have been done to find their daughter. Law-enforcement experts argue these cases pose big challenges for police.

"The real key for law-enforcement is who might be in danger and if they have some significant information that leads them to believe that will ease, then they going to pull out all the stops," Steve Neal, former Chesterfield County police captain, said.

A recent state crime commission report showed more than 8,600 missing Virginia juveniles were listed in 2013. Members revealed survey results from 115 different police agencies across the Commonwealth.

Of those, 87 percent indicated there's a real need for all law-enforcement to receive additional training when it came to responding to missing person cases and also search and rescue operations.

Neal said it's important to point out the sheer number of cases police agencies deal with when it comes to runaways.

"In the Richmand metro area there are well over 1,000 juvenile runaways who go missing every year, so it can become an issue for law-enforcement. How do we allocate our resources? Which causes do we need to put extra effort into?" he said. "Law-enforcement does a pretty good job of searching for someone who is missing when they feel like there is danger. I've seen them pull out all the stops using canines, search grids and using advanced search teams. So I think lawn enforcement does a good job when they believe someone might be in danger."

Is there someone missing in your family? What has your experience been with police handling these cases? Click here to email the CBS 6 Newsroom.