You grab your cell phone, open the FBI Wanted app, search your city name, and quickly locate the individual’s profile with additional pictures and information. The similarity is striking. So you tap the “Call the FBI” button in the app and report what you know.
This situation illustrates exactly the kind of technology-driven crime-fighting that is now possible—thanks to a new FBI Wanted mobile application launching today.
The app allows the public to view, search, sort, filter, and bookmark the full range of information issued by the FBI. That includes pictures and descriptions of wanted fugitives, missing persons, crime suspects, deceased victims, and others the Bureau is seeking to locate or identify.
The app is free and works on Apple and Android devices, including smartphones, iPads, and iPods. Depending on your device, it can be downloaded from the Apple App Store or Google Play.
“Since the earliest days of the Bureau—when wanted flyers were tacked to post office walls—the public has played a vital role in helping the FBI and its partners locate criminals on the run and solving cases of all kinds,” says Christopher Allen, head of the Investigative Publicity and Public Affairs Unit in the FBI’s Office of Public Affairs. “This app is designed to put another digital tool in the hands of concerned citizens so they can help protect their families and communities.”
The information in the app is also posted on the FBI website, but the app includes several features and capabilities that make it especially fast and easy to use. For example, with the app you can:
- Access information in one user-friendly interface, with a single tap of the app icon bringing up all Wanted profiles;
- Take advantage of a suite of search and filtering options (see sidebar);
- Easily report information by using buttons that either call the FBI or link directly to the Bureau’s online form for providing tips;
- Bookmark individual profiles with one touch, adding them to a favorites page so you can easily access them later; and
- Customize your home screen to display the information that is most relevant or interesting to you.
Along with the TV news scenario described above, the app could be useful in a number of situations. You might see someone who is acting in a suspicious or dangerous manner and wish to determine whether that person is wanted by the FBI. Or you might be interested in which cases the Bureau needs help within your area.
FBI Wanted is the third mobile app built by the Bureau. The Child ID app, introduced in 2011, allows parents to electronically store their children’s pictures and vital information in case their kids go missing; it has been downloaded nearly 350,000 times. The FBI Bank Robbers app was launched in August 2016, publicizing unknown violent and serial robbers sought by the Bureau.
“Thousands of cases have been solved over the years thanks to the watchful eyes of concerned citizens, and that has made the country a safer place for all of us,” said Allen. “The FBI Wanted app will help carry on this tradition of partnership. We encourage everyone to download it and report any pertinent tips to the FBI.”
Search and Filtering Capabilities
The new FBI Wanted App provides a range of search and filtering options to browse information and locate specific individuals or cases. The app enables you to:
- Quickly scroll through the entire list of Wanted profiles (currently more than 500);
- Use the search feature to locate individuals by name, alias, city, state, country, or any other terms mentioned in the descriptions;
- Sort information alphabetically by the FBI field office working the case;
- List data chronologically according to when it was published or updated;
- Filter profiles by status (deceased, located, etc.);
- View listings by subject or crime categories, including Case of the Week, Ten Most Wanted, Fugitives, Terrorism, Kidnappings/Missing Persons, Seeking Information, Parental Kidnappings, Known Bank Robbers, Endangered Child Alert Program, and Violent Criminal Apprehension Program; and
Use the search and filtering tools in various combinations—for instance, you can sort all terrorism profiles by the field office or list the most recently published kidnappings.
Digital Technologies Help Find Fugitives
Since 1996—when the FBI began posting wanted flyers on its new website—the Bureau has used a number of digital technologies to enlist the public’s help in locating and identifying various individuals. These tools include:
- Social Media: The FBI publicizes information about fugitives, missing persons, and other individuals through more than 60 separate social media pages or sites, including a dedicated FBI Most Wanted Twitter page with 50,000 followers.
- Digital Billboards: Since 2007, the FBI has partnered with outdoor advertising companies to place urgent public safety messages—including notifications on wanted fugitives and missing children—on approximately 6,700 digital billboards around the nation. The result has been nearly 60 captures and rescues.
- Audio and Video Podcasts: The Bureau publishes a regular series of podcasts in its Wanted By the FBI series that are available for download on iTunes and FBI.gov. Video podcasts—or vodcasts—can be viewed on YouTube or the FBI website.
- RSS Feeds: On FBI.gov, you can subscribe to 170 different feeds that deliver Bureau news and information. More than 70 of these feeds involve Wanted information.
- Mobile App: Based on the Bank Robbers website, the FBI Bank Robbers App maps the location of robberies locally and nationally and enables people to sign up for new listings.
- Widgets: The FBI has created various widgets or modules that can be incorporated into other websites or blogs, including four related to the Wanted program: Ten Most Wanted, Wanted By the FBI, Predators and Missing Persons, and Most Wanted Bank Robbers.
“Thousands of cases have been solved over the years thanks to the watchful eyes of concerned citizens, and that has made the country a safer place for all of us. The FBI Wanted App will help carry on this tradition of partnership.”
Christopher Allen, FBI Office of Public Affairs