Wanted Posters

Wanted Posters Using Wanted Posters

A wanted poster is a poster circulated throughout the public to let the citizens know about an alleged criminal whom law enforcement and other authorities want to apprehend.Some information that is found on a wanted poster includes:

• Basic personal information such as name and birth date

• Aliases

• Physical description including height, weight, build, hair, eyes, race, and sex

• Other remarks on the description

• Photos

• Details of crime

• Reward

A wanted posted will often include a photograph of the alleged criminal if a picture is available. If one is not, a drawing or facial composite image drawn by a police artist is used instead.

The wanted poster will usually also include a physical description of the person in question along with the details of the crime that they have allegedly committed. Wanted posters can be made and distributed by police departments on different levels of government or other public government agencies such as the FBI. 

Wanted Posters are often put on display in an area that is public so that a large amount of individuals can see the picture. This can be in a post office lobby or a physical bulletin board. Historically, railway security, vigilante groups, express companies, and other private agencies have also used wanted posters in an attempt to apprehend an individual.Wanted posters for an especially notorious fugitive often include an offer for a reward or bounty for the capture of the fugitive, or a reward for information that can lead to the capture. Wanted posters used in a more modern age can also include an image of the fugitive's fingerprints.

The FBI started using wanted posters in December 15, 1919. At the time, it was not meant to be a wanted poster, but rather a piece of paper with all the information known about an alleged criminal. It was titled the Identification Order Number 1 and since then, over 5,400 identification orders have been put out. These wanted posters were also the foundation of the list of the FBI’s Ten Most Wanted Fugitives, which was created in 1950.

While wanted papers started out on paper, recent technological advances have provided other means of distributing wanted posters. The FBI started posting wanted posters on electronic billboards in 2007, initially putting posters in 23 different cities. Because of these electronic billboards, there have been at least 30 cases solved in direct response to the publicity received by these billboards.

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