Digital billboards are new crime-fighting tool for police in one Georgia area

Macon TelegraphMarch 19, 2012 

Wanted posters are going digital in Bibb County, Georgia.

Pictures of a woman wanted for questioning in a January burglary will be posted high above motorists’ heads for several days beginning this week. Lamar Advertising Co. has donated space on two digital billboards in hopes that motorists who might have information about the woman’s whereabouts will call Macon police.

Michelle Vano, the company’s marketing manager, said she called police a few weeks ago after a friend forwarded her an e-mail about police seeking the woman.

Vano then sent the e-mail, which included photos of the wanted woman, to an artist who suggested that the company post the photo on their signs.

“We decided to have a partnership with them and help the community,” Vano said.

A digital billboard located near the intersection of Eisenhower Parkway and Log Cabin Drive will display the ad from Tuesday to Saturday. A second billboard, located near the intersection of Zebulon and Peake roads, will bear the ad on Saturday.

An estimated 36,000 people view an ad placed on the billboard on Eisenhower Parkway each day, while about 20,000 people see an ad on the Zebulon Road billboard, Vano said.

Police have made use of billboards in the past for recruiting advertisements, said police spokeswoman Jami Gaudet.

She said police are thankful for Lamar’s donation and the community’s help.

“It’s not just about putting people in jail. It’s about working with the community,” Gaudet said.

Bibb County sheriff’s Lt. Sean DeFoe said the sheriff’s office also has had success after using recruiting billboards in recent years.

Two such billboards are put up in varying locations twice a year in 60-day increments. Signs on Northside Drive and Zebulon Road have been up since February and are scheduled to come down Saturday.

Several people applying for jobs have mentioned that they put in a résumé after seeing the signs, DeFoe said.

The woman scheduled to be featured on Lamar’s digital billboards and a male suspect were last seen in the area of a Jan. 8 burglary in the 500 block of Second Street, police said.

The woman has been seen in a 1985 Chevrolet Corvette bearing Ohio tag FIU4760. She has webbing between her thumb and forefinger, has a sizable tattoo and has multiple ear piercings, police said.

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