FBI's "Ten Most Wanted" list turns 60

Father of Top 10 lists, FBI’s most wanted list has helped capture 94% of listed fugitives

Call it the father of Top 10 lists.  The FBI today commemorated the 60th anniversary of its "Ten Most Wanted Fugitives" list. 

And it has been a wildly successful run. Since March 14, 1950, 494 fugitives have appeared on the list and 463 have been apprehended or located - about a 94% success rate -- with 152 of those fugitives located as a direct result of citizen cooperation, the FBI said. 

The list, which has included only eight women, has changed over the years. According to the FBI  the publication of fugitive information via newspapers and magazines initially brought broader participation to the program, but the Internet, television, social media, and digital billboards have made it all the more useful. And of course, there is an iPhone app for the list as well as Facebook, Twitter and other social media participation.   

In January for example, the FBI began flashing criminal's mugshots on an electronic billboard amongst the dazzling light show that is Times Square in New York City. 

The digital billboard is part of the FBI successful nationwide effort to nab criminals by splashing their mugshots on over 1,500 public screens in 40 states for millions of citizens to see.  At least 30 cases have been solved as a direct result of digital billboard publicity, and many others have been solved through the Bureau's overall publicity efforts that included the billboards, the FBI stated.  

The FBI said it places a high priority on the fugitive investigations represented on the list. At a minimum, a reward of up to $100,000 is offered by the FBI for information leading directly to the arrest of a Top Ten fugitive. In some instances, the reward amount offered exceeds $100,000. 

According to the FBI the Top 10 list started in 1949, an International News Service (which became the United Press International) reporting asked the FBI about the "toughest guys" being sought by the FBI at the time. The bureau provided the names and descriptions of 10 fugitives to the reporter. The resulting feature became a major story and gained national attention. As a consequence of overwhelming public interest then- FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover inaugurated the FBI's Ten Most Wanted Fugitives program, the FBI stated. 

Follow Michael Cooney on Twitter @ nwwlayer8

Copyright © 2010 IDG Communications, Inc.

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