Using Promise of Free Electronics, Chicago Sheriff Rounds Up More Than 100 Fugitives

If you thought criminals couldn’t get any stupider, just take a look at what law enforcement officials in the Chicago area were able to accomplish last month. The Cook County Sheriff’s Department arrested more than 100 fugitives using a simple undercover ruse promising free TVs and electronics.

“Operation CW Marketing” was stupid simple. Using the last known addresses of more than 10,000 fugitives, the sheriff’s office sent invitations to make appointments with a fake company that was looking for consumer feedback regarding electronics.

To thank the fugitives for their time and feedback, they would receive $75 and the electronics they tested -- everything from game consoles to big-screen TVs.

More than 50 “lucky” people responded and made appointments. When the fugitives showed up to the county government warehouse (which was brightly adorned with signs and balloons), undercover officers dressed in bright t-shirts played along and carried empty electronics boxes.

Inside the warehouse, the fugitives' IDs were confirmed, and after posing fora picture, they were arrested.

And the unlucky criminals didn’t want to miss getting their supposedly free stuff. One man traveled to the warehouse by bus from Wisconsin and another, who has been arrested 32 times, ran the last few blocks when he was late for his appointment.

Yet another, having some sense thinking the invitation was too good to be true, sent a relative in his place. But when confronted, the relative quickly told investigators where the fugitive was located, and he was arrested. (You’ve got to wonder what their family reunions will be like in the future.)

After five days of making “appointments,” the department pursued other leads from the operation and rounded up more than 50 more fugitives.

Posted by Brent Dirks on Oct 06, 2011

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