The Spotlight Is On Criminals -- Local Magazine Helps Find Fugitives
AUBURN - Bruce Dunlap has never been a victim of a major crime. Neither has anyone in his family.
But the growth of crime all around him has gotten so bad he has spent $25,000 of his money to produce a magazine aimed at helping police catch criminals.
Crime Report features photographs of fugitives, descriptions of them and information about their crimes. The magazine is credited with producing tips from readers that have helped police catch 60 fugitives - an average of 20 for each of its three editions - and aided in the return of 13 missing children.
"It's invaluable to us," said Rich Moothart, manager-investigator for Seattle-King County Crimestoppers, the local branch of the international group that gives rewards for information leading to arrests of suspected criminals.
Moothart said Crime Report readers also have called about fugitives who weren't in the magazine. "It's helped promote awareness about crime and criminals in general," he said.
The magazine is no-nonsense, centering on photos of criminals and what they're suspected of. Photos of missing children, stories about crime trends and how to prevent crime also are included.
Dunlap, co-editor Val Vavrik and volunteers have distributed 50,000 copies of each 32-page edition at convenience stores, gas stations and other high-traffic areas in King, Pierce, Snohomish and Thurston counties. The first issue was published in September 1992. The most recent issue came out in August, and the next issue is planned for Jan. 24.
Dunlap said he got the idea for the magazine while talking with a friend about the growing problem of crime across the country. He said they agreed that communities need to continue finding ways to help police solve crime problems.
Dunlap and Vavrik said Crime Report borrows from post office "wanted" posters and such television shows as "America's Most Wanted."
"These people are living in our communities," Dunlap said. "They're buying groceries, going to the movies; they're sitting next to us at the bar. All we have to do is identify them."
Vavrik said the magazine's effectiveness was apparent immediately. A day after the first issue came out, she said a customer at a Tacoma convenience store was flipping through a copy when he noticed a man who was shown in the magazine.
The customer called Crimestoppers and the man - a suspected arsonist from Seattle - was arrested a day later, she said.
Dunlap is a 40-year-old Boeing technical instructor who lives and works in Auburn, and Vavrik, who met Dunlap through her husband, lives in West Seattle. She's a former member of the White Center Chamber of Commerce and owned a graphics-design business. She's never been a victim of a major crime.
Dunlap put up the money and spent hundreds of hours organizing the magazine. Vavrik does the design work and keeps in contact with city and county police agencies, in addition to the Seattle offices of the FBI, Secret Service and U.S. Marshals.
Officers at each of the agencies have eagerly accepted the help of the magazine. They provide photos and information about the Puget Sound area's many fugitives - King County, alone, has an estimated 6,000. The magazine features fugitives wanted for crimes ranging from possession of drugs to murder.
"It's been great for us," said Dave Burroughs, head of the Seattle-area Fugitive Apprehension Team, a Seattle-based group made up of seven investigators from the FBI, Seattle and King County police departments and Department of Corrections. "I just wish they had more money so they could print it more often."
Dunlap and Vavrik hope to print the magazine quarterly, and someday would like to see it expanded statewide. The future of the magazine is uncertain, though, because of a lack of money.
So far, they have been unsuccessful selling advertisements, but think they eventually might be able to sell space to home-security systems and insurance companies. They also are hopeful of getting some corporate support and some money from subscriptions.
They operate the magazine as a nonprofit company. Dunlap said he has no intentions of trying to make money with it, though he thinks he could if he decided to include sensational details about crimes and victims.
Dunlap grew up in Forks, Clallam County, a small community that he said has less tolerant attitudes toward crime than big cities. He said he is disappointed more companies and individuals haven't stepped forward to offer money or support for Crime Report, and said the lack of response is indicative of part of the crime problem.
"We generally seem to tolerate the intolerable," he said. "Everybody wants to be cocooned in their own little world, and it seems like most people don't want to do anything until the bullets start flying through their own windows."
Judging by his commitment to Crime Report, Dunlap is different. "I'm not a big believer in, `There's nothing we can do.' Part of what we're trying to do is get rid of the feeling of helplessness."
Asked whether he's ever been a victim of crime, he has a quick response: "No, and I'm not waiting until I become one."
----------------------------------------------. Crime Report To subscribe ($25 for six issues) or donate, write Crime Report, 1412 S.W. 102nd St., No. 169, Seattle, WA, 98146. For more information, call 351-9040.
Copyright (c) 1994 Seattle Times Company, All Rights Reserved.