Definitions

Wanted poster

Wanted poster

A wanted poster (or wanted sign) is a poster put up to let the public know of a criminal whom authorities wish to apprehend. They will generally include either a picture of the criminal when a photograph is available, or of a facial composite image produced by a police artist. The poster will usually include a description of the wantee and the crime(s) with which they are charged. Wanted posters are usually produced by a police or other public government body for display in a public place, such as on a physical bulletin board or in the lobby of a post office, but in ages past wanted posters have also been produced by vigilante groups, railway security, private agencies such as Pinkerton, or by express companies that have sustained a robbery.

Wanted posters for particularly notorious fugitives frequently offer a bounty or reward for the capture of the person, or for a person who can provide information leading to such capture.

Composite images for use in wanted posters can be created with various methods, including:

  • E-FIT: Electronic Facial Identification Technique via computer
  • PhotoFIT: Photographic Facial Identification Technique
  • Identikit

Wanted posters, when produced by non law enforcement sources, can be a type of harassment. In the wake of the Duke University lacrosse case, wanted posters were distributed with the photos of 40 members of the lacrosse team on them. Some anti-abortion activists have also used wanted posters as a form of protest against abortion providers.

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