Meadville Tribune

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December 22, 2013

'Most Wanted' home for the holidays?

MEADVILLE — Christmas is a time when people come home for the holiday — including those family members wanted by the Crawford County Court of Common Pleas.

The Crawford County Sheriff’s Office is asking local residents to keep an eye out for more than two dozen people who are wanted on outstanding warrants issued by the county’s court system.

The office has released the names and photos of 28 people still being sought under the “Crawford County’s Most Wanted” program.

“Crawford County’s Most Wanted” is a weekly report from the office on a person wanted by Crawford County Court of Common Pleas. The report, which features the wanted person’s picture and charges, is published Tuesdays in the Tribune. Since the program began more than three years ago, 130 out of 159 featured, or 81.7 percent, have been captured.

“We’re not trying to ruin anyone’s Christmas, but, unfortunately, we have to take this kind of action because these people have taken it upon themselves to run and hide,” Sheriff Nick Hoke said of why his office is being aggressive by releasing again the names of those not captured.

The public can play a key role by acting as extra eyes and ears, according to Chief Deputy Sheriff Neil Fratus, who oversees the office’s outstanding warrant service.

“Some of these people have family — children or ex-spouses in the area,” Fratus said. “With the holiday season, they may come back around town and try to see them.”

The public can help by providing information, no matter how insignificant it may seem, Hoke said.

“ A lot of times we’ve already started the puzzle and we’ve got a lot of the pieces and that piece (from the public) might be the piece we need to link it together,” he said.

Many of those wanted are sought because they owe money to the court system — primarily to the victims of crimes.

“Majority of that money (owed) is restitution and the victims need to be made whole for the crimes committed against them,” Hoke said of why his office being aggressive in getting the world out on the outstanding warrants.

Both Hoke and Fratus said the Sheriff’s Office is willing to work with those who have outstanding warrants. Often those featured as “Most Wanted” call the office and arrange to turn themselves in to authorities, according to Fratus.

“They need to come in and get it taken care of,” he said. “The goal is to get it taken care of for the victims.”

All of the outstanding warrants have been entered into the National Crime Information Center (NCIC) computer system, according to Hoke.

The NCIC system is a computerized index of criminal justice information including outstanding warrants for people who are wanted by law enforcement.

Hoke said his office plans to keep the pressure on those with outstanding warrants from Crawford County Court of Common Pleas.

“We’ll keep doing it as long as there are bad guys out there who don’t live up to their obligations,” he said.

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