Federal law enforcement has added another way to tip off authorities about a wanted fugitive.
You can now send a text to the U.S. Marshal’s Office if you suspect someone you saw is a wanted killer, robber or sex offender that marshals are trying to arrest. The new contact method went into operation this month.
You can also still call a phone number to give marshals your information, but the new method has advantages, the Florida Regional Fugitive Task Force said in a release. In the Tampa area, the number is 813-483-4250.
A phone call may just connect you to an answering machine and you have to rely on a person taking the message and passing it along to the investigator then waiting for a call back, the release said.
Sending a text is anonymous and you can pick when to start and end the contact. You may have no control over when a marshal returns your call under the old method. Also, the agency said, rewards that range from $250 to $10,000 are linked to catching many of the fugitives.
The method also lets investigators directly contact the person with the tip and gather more detailed information, the release said. New, fresh information can be relayed more rapidly, such as when the fugitive is on the move.
A U.S. Marshals Service office in Ohio was the first district to use the new system last year and it has been implemented in other districts since.
Last year the Florida Regional Fugitive Task Force nabbed more than 5,000 fugitives, and of those the 1,776 were arrested in the Middle Florida district that includes Pasco County and the Tampa Bay area.
If you want to use the new method, text TIP411, or 847411 and enter the keyword USMFL.
Contacting the Florida Regional Fugitive Task Force website is another method, or you can go to the U.S. Marshals site and click on Apprehending Fugitives, then Fugitive Task Forces to find a link to the Florida and Caribbean task force for information about fugitives marshals are seeking and to offer a tip.
To see a list and photographs of all the fugitives wanted by the U.S. Marshals Service in the Tampa Bay area, click here.