Item of Interest

Distribution of playing cards aims to deal positive blow to cold cases

Investigation units across the country are trying out an unusual new method of generating leads for cases that have otherwise grown cold:

They are distributing playing cards to jail and prison inmates. These are not your typical playing cards. Each of the 52 cards is printed with case profiles on unsolved homicides, missing persons, or wanted fugitives—along with a photo of the victim, missing person, or fugitive, and a phone number where tips can be called in.

The customized playing cards are printed by a Florida-based company, Effective Playing Cards & Publications. Following the concept borne from the U.S. military’s “Iraq’s Most Wanted” playing cards that were handed out to troops in 2003, a number of agencies and organizations have signed on to try this unique way of generating leads. In 2007, the Florida Department of Law Enforce-ment handed out decks of cards to more than 90,000 inmates statewide.

Reportedly, the program has led to two homicide arrests so far.

On February 1, 2009, the Missouri Highway Patrol became the most recent agency to begin handing out cold-case playing cards to inmates across the state. Digital versions of the cards may also be made available to the public online.

You can read more about the concept at the website maintained by Effective Playing Cards & Publications:

"Item of Interest"
January-February 2009 (Volume 7, Number 1)
Evidence Technology Magazine
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