Yes, Skar, you can find them that way. Hal is right though. I actually committed this crime (albeit accidentally) a few months ago. Similar situation, only involving items not NPCs. I thought the item was on a planet somewhere, hauled toward it to get the exact name and info from the room, but found in a few days that it was a ship, and I was chasing a players ship. Serious no-no, exploiting a feature like that. Once I was informed of that little error (and realized that the planet wasn't jumping from point to point, a ship was) I quickly stopped, and started finding other solutions.
My solution: Sell the 'missing' item to some poor schmuk and let them deal with it. Never could find who owned that ship/cargo container/room.. whatever.