EL SOBRANTE -- An Oakland couple bicycling through South America has been missing for a month, according to family and friends.

Jamie Neal, 27, and her boyfriend Garrett Hand, 25, were last seen in Lima, Peru, on Jan. 26. The couple's tour of Argentina, Chile and Peru began in November, and is documented in frequent posts on Neal's Facebook page.

But they vanished from the social media map Jan. 25, and have not been heard from since they arrived in Lima after biking in the Cusco region of Peru.

Ron Hammer, who has worked with Neal at The Pedaler, a bike shop in El Sobrante, said Sunday he last spoke with her Jan. 18. Neal is on an extended vacation from the shop.

"It's unlike her to disappear," said Hammer, a Pinole resident. "They were always having updates on their Facebook page and emailing and calling people."

Multiple media outlets have reported that the U.S. State Department and the U.S. Embassy in Lima are helping search for the couple. Those reports could not be independently corroborated on Sunday, as no one could be reached for comment.

On Feb. 13, the U.S. Embassy in Lima warned Americans of a potential kidnapping threat by an unnamed criminal organization in the Cusco area. The embassy reported the threat to be "credible at least through the end of February."

Anyone wishing to help the search effort can donate to a fund The Pedaler has created in the name of Neal and Hand at Mechanics Bank, according to Hammer.


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Staff writer Joshua Melvin contributed to this report. Contact David DeBolt at 925-943-8048. Follow him at Twitter.com/daviddebolt.