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Thursday, 24 January 2008

Eric Burton

Eric Burton became a public eyesore at 1:30 p.m. Wednesday when five digital billboards began broadcasting his face across Central Florida.
The faces of the region's most notorious fugitives will reach tens of thousands of motorists daily as part of an advertising push in support of Crimeline, the cash-for-tips crime-fighting program.
"It's absolutely huge for us," Crimeline coordinator Barb Bergin said after Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer and police Chief Val Demings unveiled a billboard mock-up at police headquarters. "The more people who see them, the more cases we can help solve."
Burton, 32, is being sought in the New Year's Day killing of an Orange County man and the shootings of two teenagers.
He was last seen fleeing in a metallic-green 2002 Ford Mustang from the shooting outside a bar on South Rio Grande Avenue.
Images of Burton and other fugitives will alternate with conventional advertising on the billboards, which are owned by Clear Channel Outdoor. The company is donating the advertising space to Crimeline.
Arrested 42 times before, Burton is the sort of repeat felon targeted by another Crimeline program that Dyer discussed Wednesday.
"We are breaking the culture of silence," said the mayor, referring to an aggressive campaign offering $1,000 rewards to anyone who gives information leading to the confiscation of an illegal gun and an arrest with gun charges. "We've saved lives because Orlando residents have taken a stand against violent crime."
In the gun bounty's first year, Crimeline received 910 tips on criminals with guns in Orange County.
As of Wednesday, the program had agreed to pay $38,000 for gun tips last year. Not all of the rewards had been collected because some tipsters have not claimed the money.

Overall, tips to Crimeline in 2007 led to 1,199 arrests and cleared 1,372 criminal cases in the six-county Central Florida region, Bergin said.

The "WANTED" billboard campaign, which Clear Channel Outdoor runs in several cities, has produced numerous arrests in Philadelphia, Memphis and Indianapolis, according to police.

The Central Florida billboards are at the intersections of State Road 408 and Kirkman Road; Interstate 4 and Fairbanks Avenue; I-4 and Wymore Road; Semoran Boulevard and U.S. Highway 17-92; and S.R. 434 and U.S. 17-92.


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