Local TV program broadcasts suspects' pictures

April 13, 1995|By Peter Hermann | Peter Hermann,Sun Staff Writer

A new show on Baltimore's cable channel showcases crime and flashes mug shots of wanted suspects into homes throughout the city. And from all indications, viewers can't get enough.

Since its debut last week, "Baltimore's Most Wanted" has helped local police agencies solve seven cases and nab several suspects sought in crimes ranging from failing to pay child support to holding up downtown banks.

One man turned himself in after seeing his picture on the screen. Another caller tipped off police that a wanted felon was sitting in a jail cell at the Baltimore City Detention Center. And a bail bondsman is using the show to reel in a man who keeps skipping out on court dates.

"This is very hot programming," said Lucinda Peters, the general sales manager for United Artist Cable TV. "These kind of crime-related shows do very well. Everything we are showing is very local. It's a local crime tied into a local crime person."

The half-hour show debuted April 3 on Channel 12 and airs at 10:30 a.m. and 7:30 p.m. daily. Forty suspects are profiled, and the group changes weekly, with a new wanted list premiering every Thursday. Today's crop includes several people being sought on murder charges.

"It definitely is working," said Baltimore police Agent Martin M. Seltzer, who has worked with the Metro Crime Stoppers program for eight years. The program offers rewards of up to $2,000 for information leading to a suspect's capture.

The show's biggest success, police said, is the arrest of Craig Boone, 39, of the 700 block of Carroll St. who is charged with one count of armed bank robbery. Police say he is suspected of holding up four other downtown banks since Jan. 5.

His picture -- taken from a surveillance camera at Chase Bank of Maryland -- started appearing on the show April 3. Investigators did not have a name. But someone called Metro Crime Stoppers and gave them a name.

Sam Ringgold, a city police spokesman, said Mr. Boone was being held in the city detention center awaiting a hearing on charge of holding up a beauty store in Northeast Baltimore.

Mr. Boone was charged with holding up the Chase Bank in the first block of N. Charles St. March 3.

Mr. Ringgold said a man handed a teller a note demanding money in denominations of $20, $50 and $100, and threatened to shoot the person behind the counter. Police said a dye pack with the money exploded several doors from the bank, and the man left the money on the sidewalk and ran away.

Police said four other banks have been robbed in similar ways since January, all of them downtown. Mr. Ringgold said investigators are awaiting lab tests to link the suspect to other cases.

Courtside Bail Bonds, on Greenmount Avenue, also is using the show to try to catch a chronic bail jumper, accused of drug crimes, who has not shown for his last 10 court hearings, forfeiting bail each time.

One man even turned himself in to a district police station after seeing his picture on television. He was wanted for an attempted bank holdup.

" 'I'm doomed,' " the man told the desk sergeant, according to Ms. Peters. " 'I saw my picture up there.' "

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