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For Immediate Release

Contact:
January 30, 2013 Ryan Helfrich, Deputy U.S. Marshal
Northern District of Ohio (216) 522-2236
U.S. Marshals Task Force Arrests Rape Suspect After Receiving Anonymous Text Tip

NOVFTF LogoCleveland, OH – This morning at approximately 9:15 a.m., members of the U.S. Marshals Northern Ohio Violent Fugitive Task Force (NOVFTF) arrested Bobby Thomas, age 39. Thomas was wanted by the Lakewood Police Department for rape and kidnapping. It is alleged that beginning back in August of 2012 and continuing through October of 2012, Thomas repeatedly raped a child under the age of 14.

Last week, the NOVFTF profiled Thomas in local media as the “Fugitive of the Week” and numerous tips were received but none that were able to lead the Task Force to Thomas current location. This morning, at approximately 8:40 a.m., the NOVFTF received an anonymous text tip that Thomas was hiding at a residence near the 3200 block of W. 73rd. St. in Cleveland. Task force members immediately responded to the tip. While searching the home, officers located Thomas hiding in a closet. Thomas was taken to the Lakewood City Jail and booked in on the warrant.

The U.S. Marshal’s Office in Northern Ohio was the first in the nation to introduce an anonymous text tip line for the public to discreetly send information on wanted fugitives. This feature was introduced in December 2011 and the NOVFTF has made several significant arrests based on information received through this new text tip feature. Since release, a large number of other U.S. Marshal’s offices have implemented the same feature and it has proven successful across the nation.

U.S. Marshal Pete Elliott stated, “This is another great example of the success we have when the media and the public work with us to help keep our communities safe. We will always continue to seek out new technologies to assist us with pursing those that evade the law.”

Anyone with information regarding the whereabouts of a known fugitive is encouraged to contact the U.S. Marshals Northern Ohio Violent Fugitive Task Force at 1-866-4WANTED or Text keyword WANTED and tip to TIP411 (847411) Tipsters can remain anonymous and reward money is available.

The Northern Ohio Violent Fugitive Task Force – Cleveland Division is composed of the following federal, state and local agencies: U.S. Marshals Service, Cleveland Police Department, Cuyahoga County Sheriff’s Office, Cuyahoga Metropolitan Housing Authority Police Department, Euclid Police Department, Homeland Security Investigations, Lakewood Police Department, Linndale Village Police Department, Ohio Adult Parole Authority, Ohio State Highway Patrol, Social Security Administration - Office of Inspector General, and the Westlake Police Department.

Additional information about the U.S. Marshals Service can be found at http://www.usmarshals.gov.

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