Sunday, October 11, 1992 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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Erik Lacitis

That Guy Look Familiar? Better Check Out Crime Report

Stopping at a 7-Eleven in West Seattle for coffee on the way home from a pleasant, languid afternoon trying to catch some salmon on the Duwamish Waterway, I was soon staring back at reality.

Next to the checkout counter was the premiere issue of a 48-page giveaway publication whose main feature was mug shots and descriptions of criminals lurking around our region.

Crime Report is a truly scary compilation of murderers, rapists, armed robbers, child molesters and other assorted examples of society's decay.

When I later called the managing editor, she pointed out that any one of those individuals could be driving down my street right now. So much for the easygoing memories of that fishing trip.

The no-nonsense descriptions of the criminals further added to their scariness. Why bother with pulp-novel prose when you can use real-life police descriptions?

This was the description of a man wanted for murder and robbery: 6 feet, 200-plus pounds and likes to walk around with "hair in ponytail, three-day beard growth. Wearing military-type olive green field jacket."

Or this man, wanted for burglary: "He is an ex-convict who does not want to return to prison. . . . Tattoos on back, left shoulder, right shoulder and right hand. Scar on left arm."

But scattered among the scraggly-looking suspects there were also a number of clean-cut types. It just goes to show you can't judge by looks alone.

There was, for example, a 26-year-old who could have passed for a stockbroker. It turned out he had pleaded guilty to three counts of arson, and then never showed up for his sentencing.

Forty-five minutes after the issue of Crime Report arrived at a 7-Eleven, calls started coming in to the Crime Stoppers phone number listed in the publication, and soon the arsonist was back in jail.

That kind of success story made Valerie Vavrik, 35, a graphics designer, feel all her work was worth it. She is the managing editor of Crime Report, and for the past few months she has been putting in 12- to 16-hour days on the magazine.

Bruce Dunlap, 39, a Boeing industrial-skills instructor, is the editor. He's the one who contacted police agencies and bankrolled the publication with $15,000 of his savings.

And, no, neither has been a crime victim.

Dunlap talked about how he lived in the little town of Forks for 12 years. In that logging town, he said, your kid went to the same school as the local cops' kids, and everybody knew each other.

If some crime took place, "We'd handle it immediately. We'd immediately find out who it was and arrest him."

Then Dunlap moved to the Seattle area.

"I couldn't believe how much people tolerated as far as crime goes, everything from assaults to thefts. People would read about it in the paper, but there wouldn't be much reaction," he said.

In talking to a couple he knew, the Vavriks, Dunlap found that Valerie also was concerned with a society taken over by crime. She told of her stepson's high school, and hearing about gangs and drugs and guns, and of businesses in her White Center neighborhood worrying about drive-by shootings.

A couple of weeks ago, 50,000 copies of Crime Report came off the presses with the mug shots of criminals, and other features, such as photos of missing children. Each day, Valerie and Bruce go to the mini-marts and drop off copies. They still have 20,000 to distribute.

Generally the stores agree to display the publication, although one time a clerk at a mini-mart said she didn't want the publication there. It would just make her even more scared, she said.

The clerk had a point.

"It is an eerie feeling. Every time I see someone I can't quite place, I wonder if it's one of the people in my magazine," Vavrik said.

You could call Crime Report the print version of reality programming such as "America's Most Wanted."

It's a nasty world out there, and, as Dunlap said, "It seems to be creeping closer and closer."

Like that guy weighing 210 pounds, with "Louise" tattooed on his left forearm, his face displayed on Page 6 of Crime Report.

Wasn't there a guy who looked just like him, didn't you see him the other day by . . .

You know, I wish sometimes I got less information in this age of information. A lot less.

Copyright (c) 1992 Seattle Times Company, All Rights Reserved.


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