Monday, May 21, 2018
Public safety

Internet wanted posters working for Tampa Bay deputies

NEW PORT RICHEY — It might as well have been slapped up on an old saloon door.

Above the mug shot of 24-year-old fugitive Frederick Quijano, the Pasco Sheriff's Office announced that he was wanted for robbery and had a $50,000 bond. The post went up on the Sheriff's Office Facebook wall at 11 a.m. Tuesday and asked for tips from the public.

The 45 comments streamed in through the afternoon. Some left tips on his whereabouts. Others called it a lazy approach on the part of the Sheriff's Office. One poster scorned "snitches." Quijano himself chimed in:

"Hello pasco county sherriffs," he wrote, "it woukd have been great for ur dumba--es to give me a calk or better yet stop by my house before calling me a fugitive um I thought u had my fone number and address on file so do ur job the right way."

On Wednesday afternoon, he was arrested at a Port Richey house.

Nicole "Great Grape" Graham, known for her consumption of white grapes, was arrested the same day on a violation of probation warrant related to grand theft charges. Her mug shot had been posted on the site six days earlier.

Detectives say the posts are working. Since April 1, the agency has posted six "Fugitive of the Day" mug shots. Of those, deputies have arrested three people because of the tips they receive from people who see the posts on Facebook.

The tips come through the Sheriff's Office tip line, the website or are left in the comments under the photos, said sheriff's spokeswoman Melanie Snow.

Sheriff Chris Nocco said the agency regularly gets calls from people looking to help with investigations.

"This is an opportunity for them to be active with us," he said Thursday.

Sgt. Dan Olds, head of the fugitive warrants unit, calls it "the modern day wanted poster."

Detectives field about 2,000 violation of probation warrants a month. Last year, according to reports, law enforcement officers executed 8,927 warrants in the county.

Usually, he said, suspects are arrested within a month of the warrant being issued. The ones whose mugs have gone on the Facebook wall have been arrested within a week, he said.

Other agencies have followed suit.

After City Food Mart on 66th Street N was robbed twice last week, the Pinellas County Sheriff's Office posted surveillance video from the store to its Facebook wall, urging users to "help detectives put him in jail!"

The Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office had something similar on its website, called the "Cellblock Shakedown," where users could look at four categories of 10 fugitives each: Deadbeat Dads, DUIs, Top 10, and Top 10 Career Criminals.

The page started in 2009, and 35 fugitives were arrested because of tips, said spokeswoman Cristal Bermudez Nuñez. But the site was recently discontinued because updating 40 criminals' arrest statuses became a burden for the agency's webmaster.

Denise Moloney, spokeswoman for the Hernando County Sheriff's Office, posts "Monday's Most Wanted" on the agency's Facebook page every week. She said she also posts bulletins from Hernando County Crime Stoppers, which include a cash reward for tips.

"It's very popular," she said. "That's a lot of people looking at that data, so it's a useful tool for us."

Contact Alex Orlando at [email protected] or (727) 869-6247.

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