By: Joe Strupp
Six months after running a successful newspaper ad listing thousands of fugitives that led to more than 300 arrests, police in Newport News, Va., are at it again. Only this time, they’ve gotten a local auto dealership to foot the bill.
Monday’s edition of The Daily Press of Newport News included a full-page ad listing the names of more than 1,000 fugitives wanted on outstanding warrants, all of whom are suspects in felonies, according to Police Chief James Fox. He said the ad has already resulted in about 50 arrests so far today.
“We’ve had a couple of them just turn themselves in,” Fox told E&P Tuesday.
The $4,000 advertisement was bought by a local auto dealership, Casey Auto Group, Fox said. While the list takes up nearly all of the ad space, a small portion notes its sponsorship, the chief said.
The police department first tried the ad approach in December, purchasing a two-page spread that listed nearly 4,000 names of fugitives, including those wanted for both felonies and misdemeanors. Police paid for that ad, which cost $6,000, using a federal Safe Neighborhood Project grant.
Fox said the first ad generated hundreds of tips, as well as a sharp upturn in single-copy newspaper sales for the Daily Press that day. When local auto dealers heard about the circulation rise, several contacted the police wanting to know when a similar ad would run again.
“We came up with a plan to run it, and go into partnership with the car dealership,” Fox said. “It has really gotten positive attention and good feedback.”
Daily Press Home Delivery Manager Sharon Hayes said the 72,000-daily circulation paper, which averages some 26,000 single-copy sales each day, sold about 1,400 more papers than usual on Monday. She said the fugitive ad was responsible for most of it.
“People want to know if their neighbors are on the list,” Hayes said. “It pulls in local interest.”
Chief Fox, who joined the department last August, expects a similar ad to run in the future. “We will continue to do it periodically; it helps us in reducing crime in the city,” he said, also noting the positive advertising results. “I would be willing to bet we could get [ad] support from a number of places.”