Message From the Director
“The FBI’s ‘Top Ten’ program celebrates not only an FBI success story, but emphasizes the need for citizen cooperation in the fight against crime.”
For sixty years, the FBI has sought the public’s assistance in a special way through one of our most effective and longest running publicity programs—the “Ten Most Wanted Fugitives” list. In 1949, reporter James Donovan asked the FBI to identify the “toughest guys” we were investigating at the time. We provided him with photos of ten dangerous fugitives, which he then published on the front page of The Washington Daily News.
The “Top Ten” list was extremely popular at the time and several fugitives were captured as a result. During the following year, the FBI formalized its “Ten Most Wanted Fugitives” publicity program, which, since 1950, has led to the location of more than 460 of our nation’s most dangerous criminals.
Through the publication of fugitive information in various outlets, beginning with newspapers and magazines, to now using the Internet, television, social media, and digital billboards across the country, the FBI continues to seek public assistance in locating wanted fugitives. We recognize the unique ability of the news media to cast a wider net within communities here and abroad. The FBI can send agents to visit a thousand homes to find a witness, but the media can visit a million homes in an instant.
The FBI tracks every possible lead in its search for dangerous fugitives, but we could not have been as successful without citizens reporting tips to us and to our law enforcement partners. The FBI’s “Top Ten” program celebrates not only an FBI success story, but emphasizes the need for citizen cooperation in the fight against crime.
The “Ten Most Wanted Fugitives” program tracks the evolution of the crime problem in America. While the list began with bank robbers and murder suspects fleeing state jurisdiction, it has evolved into a search for major organized crime figures, serial killers, domestic and international terrorists, cyber criminals, and white collar criminals. During this last decade, the list has illustrated the international scope of crime, as well as the importance of strong global partnerships in the search for terrorists, sexual predators, human traffickers, and other violent criminals who pose a significant danger to all.
The landscape in which we operate and the technology we use will continue to change. The threats we face as citizens will become more diverse and dangerous. But what will not change is the hard work and integrity of dedicated FBI employees and our commitment to protecting U.S. citizens both at home and abroad.