For the past several years, playing cards with information about unsolved crimes have been distributed in jails and prisons nationwide in hope of generating fresh leads in cold cases. Now, reports USA Today, drink coasters with the same aim are being distributed to bars in Florida and South Carolina, says Dan Turner of Effective Playing Cards & Promotions, which partners with law enforcement and Crime Stoppers agencies to print the cards. Nebraska State Patrol Sgt. Glenn Elwell estimates that up to 20 states are using playing cards in jails and prisons.
The idea behind the coasters is similar to the one behind the playing cards: to help detectives find the break they need to solve a case. “There’s a lot of information  that goes untouched, unheard,” Elwell says. “Now instead of one person knowing what happened in that case, now four know and one of them might step forward. The idea for the cards began in Florida in 2005, where they have played a role in solving three cases, says Florida Department of Corrections Special Agent Tommy Ray. “We put 7,500 decks of cards in [one] county jail, and within six months, we had solved our first homicide,” says Ray, who came up with the idea after years of interviewing prisoners. He knew some of them who had information would come forward if given the opportunity. In the cases where inmates reported tips based on the playing cards, Ray says, “they said to me, ‘This could be my mother, father, sister or brother, and it was the right thing to do.’ “