The FBI’s use of digital billboards to help capture elusive criminals has expanded from a one-city test in 2007 to a growing network that now covers more than 40 states, reports USA Today. The bureau say the billboards can be directly tied to solving 35 cases in the past two years. “It is a real force multiplier,” says spokesman Chris Allen. “We can put 10 agents on a case. But when we put information on a billboard, all of a sudden we have 500,000 sets of eyes looking for what we are looking for.”
The FBI credits the billboard project with leading to the apprehension of serial bank robber Chad Schaffner, who was captured in September after he was featured on billboards in several Southeastern states. Allen says the number of cases solved with help of the billboards is “remarkable.” He adds, “It outpaces the Internet and rivals America’s Most Wanted in the ability to help us make arrests.” Outdoor advertising companies donate billboard space to the FBI. There are about 1,800 digital billboards in the U.S.; although that represents fewer than 1 percent of billboards, many of those signs are in highly populated areas.