The State cyber police has traced a 31-year-old youth, missing for the past 12 years, by tracking his activities on the internet, chiefly his e-mail and social networking accounts.

The police detained the missing person, Jimmy Koruth, at Adayar, Chennai and produced him before a court in Kollam district nearly 70 km away from here on Tuesday.

Inspector General of Police Kannur Range Tomin J. Thachankery said, Jimmy was reported missing from November 29, 1998 while in his final year degree at the Mar Ivanious College here. His father, V.V. Koruth of Pandalam, had registered a man missing complaint at the local police station.

The initial inquiries conducted by the police proved futile. The only clues were two letters that Jimmy had left behind in his hostel room before disappearing. In his letters, Jimmy had asked his parents not to search for him.

This January, a relative of Jimmy informed Circle Inspector, Pandalam, Zachariah Mathew, that he had seen an account in the name of Jimmy Koruth in the social networking site, Orkut. Mr. Zachariah brought the matter to the notice of Mr. Thachankery, the head of Cyber Cell.

The cell found that the Orkut account had been created on October 18, 2008. Investigators said the account holder did not post his photograph on the site nor did he list anybody as friends or contacts. Moreover, the “scrap book” of the account holder was also empty, giving no indication of his identity, location, job, tastes or friends.

They contacted Google International, the provider of the social networking service, and learned that the account had been initiated from an internet café in Chennai. The police found the café closed and they could not get any further details of the user who created the account.

The police later traced the e-mail address used for creating the account. The cyber investigators contacted the e-mail service provider and collected the user’s e-mail access details and usage history.

They found that the e-mail user regularly visited an internet café in Adayar in Chennai. The owners of the café kept photocopies of users’ identity proof in addition to video images.

The video images and photo on the copy of the driving license matched that of Jimmy. The Chennai police put plainclothesmen outside the café and arrested Jimmy on his arrival. The Tamil Nadu police later handed him over to their counterparts in Kerala.

Jimmy, who was present with Mr. Thachankery and other officers said he could not remember when he created the Orkut account. He said he was working at a business process outsourcing centre in Chennai. He said he was planning to visit home this Easter and that he was surprised initially when the police detained him. Mr. Jimmy’s father, V.V. Koruth, thanked the investigators and said he was happy to have his son back.

Mr. Tomin said teachers and parents should mandatorily know the e-mail accounts (as well as mobile phone numbers) of their students and wards, in case they went missing or became victims of crime. Superintendent of Police, Cyber Cell, Girija Nathan Nair, Deputy Superindent of Police, J. Sukumara Pillai, Circle Inspector E.S. Biju Mon and Ajith Mohan investigated the case.