The FBI’s Web-based effort to capture bank robbers, Bandit Tracker, which debuted in Texas, in 2007, has expanded to Illinois and Indiana since May, bringing to four the number of states participating in the program, reports the Associated Press. The FBI hopes to take the online crime-solving tool nationwide. The Web sites showcase surveillance photos of elusive or dangerous suspects who are often given memorable nicknames to generate media attention. The sites allow visitors to e-mail tips that can help solve crimes and put reward money in tipsters’ pockets.
Eleven of the 30 bank robbers on the Bandit Tracker Arkansas site have “captured” signs across their faces; and four of those have been a direct result of tips sent to the site that debuted last year, Traffic on Chicago’s Bandit Tracker site was so heavy that it crashed the site on three days after it went live in May. The Web sites include still photographs from bank surveillance video, descriptions of suspects’ appearance and technique ,and maps to show robbery patterns. Visitors can anonymously e-mail tips if they recognize a suspect.