What the F?!
Congratulations, you’ve been arrested!
LAST MONTH, THE Central Warrants Unit of the Cook County Sheriff’s Office in Chicago sent out 10,000 letters to fugitives with outstanding warrants, offering prizes of $500 coupons, plasma TVs, and video game systems.
Though thousands of letters came back undeliverable, more than 50 fugitives made appointments to come to a warehouse parking lot to claim their “prizes.” Dubbed “Operation C.W. Marketing,” the sting resulted in 102 arrests between Sept. 17 and 24.
When the escapees arrived at the parking lot, they were greeted by staff from “C.W. Marketing” and presented with a survey offering them a choice of prizes. Once inside the warehouse, their identities were confirmed as they posed for celebratory photographs before being arrested.
“We had numerous cases ranging from misdemeanours to felonies, some people we’d have been looking for, for longer times than others, that we have cleared off the books,” Tom Dart, Cook County sheriff, told the Chicago Tribune.
Investigators continued to accept appointments, making 50 additional arrests since the initial sting. The entire operation was a two-week effort and involved minimal costs. The price of 102 arrests was the cost of postage for the congratulatory letters and $5,000 in vehicle towing fees.
According to Don Morrison, chief of the fugitive unit, the biggest challenge was not to rouse suspicion among the fugitives at the warehouse. They were greeted in the parking lot decorated with balloons and signs held by smiling officers in bright shirts and saw empty TV boxes being loaded into cars.
Another challenge was not to spark their anger—but not about being arrested.
“They were more mad about not getting the [fake prizes] than they were about getting arrested,” Morrison said.