SAN FRANCISCO - Friends of a popular San Francisco dog walker reached out to KTVU after their friend has gone missing for almost a week. They say it's completely out of character and they fear for his safety.
Shinji Kobayashi lives in Hayes Valley and runs a dog-walking business. Friends describe him as responsible and hard working and that he wouldn't leave without telling his friends.
They came together Tuesday evening at Patricia Greens Park in Hayes Valley to put up flyers with a photo and description of their beloved friend.
"We want our friend back. We're worried about him. I love him and I want him in one piece and safe," says John Hoffman, a friend who's spearheading the search.
Friends say Shinji, a professional dog walker. would often take his clients' pets to Patricia Greens Park.
The 48-year-old was last seen and heard from Wednesday, Jan. 24. Friends shared a photo of him from that night at the War Memorial where he attended the San Francisco Ballet.
At 10:55 that night, he posted on Facebook a video of the 'Sleeping Beauty' ballet he had just seen. Friends say that was the last time he was on social media.
"Shinji is someone who's glued to his phone constantly and texting...frequently poster on Facebook," says Ed Gimelli, a friend who says he's known Shinji for decades.
All activity stopped abruptly. Friends say their calls go straight to voicemail.
They say he does not suffer from mental health issues and has never gone off without telling anyone.
"It's a mystery. I can't figure out why our friend would fall off the face of the earth," says Hoffman.
Friends say the day after the ballet, Shinji failed to meet a client whom he's worked with for 17 years.
He was also supposed to meet with friends on Friday.
"I've had a knot in my stomach since Friday that just won't go away," says Ed Gimelli, a friend who says he's known Shinji for decades.
Friends describe Shinji as a shy, sweet , and gentle soul with a ready smile.
They say he came from Tokyo, Japan almost thirty years ago. His family is still there.
Shinji has a large circle he considers his family of friends here in San Francisco. A text message or phone call was always returned quickly.
"This is very unusual. He hasn't contacted us. His phone has been off. We're very worried," says Mari Miyashita, a friend.
Friends have gone to the building where Shinji lives. They say the building manager has gone into his room and has found nothing amiss.
"I've been going crazy. I've never been in this position before, to have someone I dearly love vanish. It terrifies me," says Hoffman.
Friends say they fear foul play. San Francisco Police say they're treating this as a missing persons case and that they have no evidence of foul play.
When asked if there has been activity on Shinji's cell phone and credit or bank cards, police say they can not release that information because it's an open investigation, they can not release that information.