UPDATE: Neal and Hand were recently spotted in a boat on the river in a remote part of Peru, authorities announced Tuesday.
The disappearance of a San Francisco Bay Area couple during a bicycling trip in Peru has rattled the national cycling community and prompted a search by the U.S. State Department.
Jamie Neal, 27, and Garrett Hand, 25, reportedly left for a multi-month South American cycling trip in November and had been documenting their journey online. But according to friends and family, all communication stopped on January 25.
According to CBS, there has also been no financial activity on the couple's bank accounts or credit cards since that day.
"That's the big alarm," said Hand's sister, Larkin McGowan, to CBS.
The couple was last seen on January 26 getting into a taxi in Lima.
On February 13, the U.S. Embassy in Peru issued a warning of a potential kidnapping threat:
The U.S. Embassy has received information that members of a criminal organization may be planning to kidnap U.S. citizen tourists in the Cusco and Machu Picchu area.
According to Fox News, the Embassy and Peruvian authorities have been investigating the disappearance and have been in touch with the families. As of this week, the U.S. State Department has also joined in the search.
Before departing on the trip, Neal worked at The Pedaler Bike Shop in El Sobrante and had been keeping in touch with coworkers during her travels.
The bike shop has offered a $3,000 reward for information on the couple's whereabouts, and shared a post asking for help on Facebook:
Jamie Neal and Garrett Hand are missing in Peru. The last contact anyone had with them was around January 26th, 2013. If you know anyone in Lima or the Cusco region of Peru please contact them. Maybe there are some bike clubs you know about or have been on a bike tour there. They were on a South American bike tour that would have been completed this Spring. Anyting you can think of to help would be greatly appreciated.
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