Fugitives Talk About Being on the Run from Police

We spoke to a guy currently on the run, one who was caught and is currently in prison, and another who's now free, about hiding out from the law.


Disappearing isn't easy. Your ex is probably still friends with you on Facebook; there's a good chance you've accidentally geotagged all your tweets; and bank statements, GPS entries, browser history, and phone records can leave digital traces of you everywhere. With access to your cyber footprint, someone could basically track your movements by the minute.

However, despite all this, there are still people who manage to slip through the cracks, even while the police are hunting them.

There are 31 people on the the UK's National Crime Agency's most-wanted list, some of whom have been on the run for over a decade and have a £10,000 [$12,513] reward for information leading to their arrest. The Crimestoppers website, which allows civilians to leave anonymous tips for police, lists 355 wanted individuals, but the exact number of people on the run from the police in the UK is unclear.

Who are these people who have dedicated their lives to running from the police? People who have made themselves so anonymous that even the people paid to find them can't.

"You don't realize how much of your life is spent looking at shit on your phone until you have to throw it in a river."

Shaun* was released on bail after being charged with assault last year, but when he failed to turn up to his court hearings, he broke the conditions of his temporary release. Now, he'll be taken into a remand prison if he's caught.

"You know what? I'm so fucking bored," he says over the phone, adding that he hasn't been able to go on Facebook in almost two months. "You don't realize how much of your life is spent looking at shit on your phone until you have to throw it in a river."

After ditching his phone and his iPad, Shaun left his parents' house wearing his dad's clothes ("they'd have recognized me in a tracksuit") and never looked back. Living in an undisclosed location with a friend, he knows his days of relative freedom are numbered but is terrified of going to prison. 

"I know I can't run forever," he says, "but I can't face going inside. Not now, after all this. I haven't spoken to my parents or anything. I've made it worse for myself."

Unlike Shaun, 34-year-old Steve* decided to take his loved ones along for the ride when he fled the police. He's currently serving a two-year sentence for fraud but spent just as long on the outside trying to avoid it. Steve handed himself in after being given an ultimatum by his wife, who was tired of living like a fugitive.

"She said to me, 'Steve, I haven't done anything wrong. I can't live like this any longer,' and I knew it was either hand myself in and face up to it, or lose her and the kids," he says over the phone from prison. "It wasn't fair for me to put them through all that shit, but you're not really thinking straight when you know you're going to get locked up."

Josh*, 45, was on the run for two years before he was eventually captured and sentenced to seven years in prison. Freed in 2012 after serving the full sentence, Josh says he had no idea that he was wanted in three countries when he decided to run. He explains that in most cases, like Shaun's, people on the run are waiting for their cases to be heard or for their co-accused to be charged. "In my case, I didn't know how serious I was wanted," he says. "I had a fucking idiot lawyer who told me it wasn't that serious, when in reality it was very, very serious."

I asked him, "If you'd known how serious it was, would you still have run?" 

"I would have run further," he replies. "I always had a false passport ready for an emergency. In my line of work, it would be irresponsible not to. I got a phone call one night saying that they'd arrested someone who was on his way to meet me. I had warning, so I ran—they fucked up, and they missed me. By the time they got to my house, I was already gone."

Josh, originally from central England, made his way from his adopted home city of Madrid to Valencia, where he lived undercover. He did the most cliché thing someone on the run can do—he grew a beard. However, he also adopted the identity in his new passport and cut ties with everyone from his former life.

"The most important thing is to not have direct contact with family," he says. "They'll monitor them, knowing that sooner or later you'll get in touch. That's how they catch most people. You have to be disciplined."

Being disciplined for Josh meant never delving into a bank account, even when his cash was running low. When he left Madrid, he took all the physical money he could, but "there's only so much you can carry."

Josh says that keeping his head above water is one of the hardest parts of being on the run. "It's expensive running all the time—people rip you off constantly. When you're paying for an apartment or buying a car in cash, it doesn't take a mind reader to work out something's going on. People up-charge you for stuff in exchange for staying quiet."

"Eventually you need to replenish your funds," he says. "The loss of earnings hits you, and that's when things get even more risky, as you have to contact people from your old life, or work with new people. Neither are ideal when you're trying to keep a low profile—frying pan or fire."

Josh was eventually caught when he tried to collect money he was owed. The debtor panicked and called the police, and when Josh left his apartment the next morning to get breakfast, there were eight armed officers waiting for him.

Now a free man, Josh's habits from his days on the run stay with him. Sitting in the passenger seat of his car, he drives me through busy London streets, pointing out exactly where security cameras are, which traffic cameras aren't in use, and which of the hundreds of vehicles passing by are undercover police cars. He gestures toward a plainclothes police officer in a rush-hour crowd at the underground metro station.

It's like he's developed a sixth sense—adapting to his undercover environment after living the majority of his life on the wrong side of the law.

When I ask Josh what the hardest part about life on the run was, he says it was getting caught. "I'd do it all again," he says. "You never surrender; never, ever give up. You could be diagnosed with cancer and die within two months. I'd rather spend my time on the run than in jail."

*All names have been changed.

These White-Collar Manhunts Will Make Your Head Spin

When the greedy get fearful, they run.

Sometimes they hide in plain sight, like David Kaup, who pleaded guilty in 2012 to a series of loan frauds in California. But he never told his family about the case. Instead, on the eve of his sentencing, he told them he was heading to China and turned off his cell phone. In fact, he went to Las Vegas, started a new life, and eluded authorities for nearly four years until his case was featured on an episode of American Greed: The Fugitives.

Manhunts for white-collar fugitives can be some of the most difficult and time consuming of all. That's because they usually involve sophisticated criminals with the means and the cunning to go far.Travel the globe with us as we trace some of the greatest white-collar manhunts of all time, and see how the authorities finally got their men—and women.

Frank Abagnale, who made $2.5 million in the 1960s as a teenager faking identities as an airline pilot, lawyer and doctor now works with the FBI and others on cybercrime.

Frank Abagnale, who made $2.5 million in the 1960s as a teenager faking identities as an airline pilot, lawyer and doctor now works with the FBI and others on cybercrime.

Catch Me If You Can
Fugitive: Frank Abagnale
Crime: Check Forgery, Fraud
On the Run: 5 years

You probably know Frank Abagnale's story from Leonardo DiCaprio's portrayal in the hit 2002 film Catch Me If You Can. The movie, directed by Steven Spielberg, romanticized Abagnale's exploits, as well as the chase led by FBI Agent Carl Hanratty, played by Tom Hanks.

In reality, Frank Abagnale was a bad guy for a long time. As he tells it, he started out by ripping off his own father in a credit card fraud at age 15. He quickly moved on to check forgery, eluding the authorities—and just about anyone else—with a series of fake identities including an airline pilot and an attorney. By the late 1960s, he had cashed some $2.5 million in bad checks and was wanted in every state as well as 26 foreign countries.

In the end, one of his fake identities—the pilot—came back to haunt him. A flight attendant whom he had dated spotted him in France and alerted the authorities.

Abagnale spent five years in prison including time in Sweden, France, and the U.S. He eventually won early release after agreeing to help educate the authorities and the public about forgery. Today, he is a sought-after speaker and fraud consultant based in Washington, DC.

But Abagnale's checkered past has opened him up to suspicion that his new life is part of the con. As early as 1978, when he was just starting on the lecture circuit, the San Francisco Chronicle reported that it could not verify much of his story. For his part, Abagnale acknowledges on his web site that his biography may be exaggerated, and says Catch Me If You Can is "just a movie."

"I consider my past immoral, unethical and illegal," he writes. "It is something I am not proud of."

Martin Frankel

Martin Frankel

Roman Holiday
Fugitive: Martin Frankel
Crime: Embezzlement, Insurance Fraud
On the Run: 4 months

In reality, he was a failed Ohio stockbroker. But in the 1990s, Martin Frankel took tony Greenwich, Connecticut by storm when he swept into town claiming to be an insurance mogul. He did own five small insurance companies in the South. He also set up a fake charitable foundation, falsely claiming he had ties to the Vatican.

As profiled in a 2008 episode of American Greed, Frankel managed to loot his insurance companies to the tune of $200 million. He sunk much of the money into his Connecticut mansion, where he assembled a harem of beautiful women. Prosecutors alleged the place was a den of prostitution and kinky sex.

In 1999, with the authorities closing in, Frankel fled to Rome, laundered millions of dollars by purchasing diamonds, and eventually wound up in Hamburg, Germany. But in the end, his fake passports did him in. He was arrested in Hamburg, and served time in Germany for passport fraud and failing to pay taxes on the diamonds.

He eventually pleaded guilty to 24 felony counts in the U.S. and was sentenced to 17 years in prison here. He was released to a halfway house in May. A judge ordered Frankel, now 61, to begin paying restitution once he finds a job.


Giancarlo Parretti

You Ought to be in Pictures
Fugitive: Giancarlo Parretti
Crime: Evidence Tampering, Securities Fraud
On the Run: 3 years

The magic of the movies can soften even some of the hardest-nosed investors, and Giancarlo Parretti used that to his advantage.

The former waiter from Orvieto, Italy has been described in various reports as "roly-poly," "vulgar," and a man whose "principal expertise was Ponzi schemes." Parretti managed to convince major backers including French bank Credit Lyonnais to back his 1990, $1.3 billion takeover of the MGM movie studio. He then promptly ran MGM into the ground.

The bank sued, Parretti countersued, criminal prosecutors and the Securities and Exchange Commission got involved, and in 1996 a Delaware jury convicted him of perjury and evidence tampering. But before he could be sentenced, Parrettii fled and a three-year manhunt ensued.

In retrospect, finding him should not have been so difficult. Italian police located him in 1999 at a weight loss farm, not far from his Orvieto home. At last report, he remains in Italy where he has been fighting extradition for years. Credit Lyonnais eventually paid $4 million to the U.S government to avoid criminal charges for its own role in the affair.

Kevin Mitnick

Kevin Mitnick

Lost in Cyberspace
Fugitive: Kevin Mitnick
Crime: Theft, Computer Hacking
On the Run: 2 years

Long before cybercrime became a household term, there was Kevin Mitnick. A serial hacker since he was in high school taking over computers that ran on crude telephone modems and punch cards, Mitnick's first arrest was in 1981. The 17-year-old got caught stealing computer manuals from a Pacific Bell switching center in Los Angeles.

He got probation for that little caper, but the stakes would grow steadily from there. He broke into computers at the University of Southern California. He found his way into NORAD. Mitnick claims to have hacked into the systems of 40 major corporations just for the challenge.

The authorities were not amused. In 1987 he pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor for stealing software from a small California firm. The following year, he was arrested and convicted in a much larger software theft from the giant Digital Equipment Corporation. He served a year in prison and was released on probation.

Suspecting him of violating a provision in his probation that barred him from using a computer, the FBI searched his home in 1992. That's when Mitnick went on the run, at various points eluding authorities by hacking their communication network and wiretapping their phones.

A multi-agency task force finally caught Mitnick by beating him at his own game—what the Justice Department called an "electronic manhunt." They tracked him to a Raleigh, North Carolina apartment where he was arrested in 1995.

He eventually pleaded guilty to a raft of fraud counts and served five years in prison. Today, he proudly proclaims himself "the world's most famous hacker." He runs a so-called "white hat" computer security firmthat helps companies find vulnerabilities in their systems just like he did when he was a teenage computer nerd.


Brush With Fame
Fugitive: Niesha Jackson
Crime: Bank Fraud
On the Run: 2 ½ years

Niesha Jackson and her partner in crime Charles Barksdale robbed dozens of banks over several years, raking in more than $2 million. And their only weapon was a maddeningly simple scam.

They recruited women to go to the banks asking for refills on pre-paid debit cards, asking the tellers to call the phone numbers on the cards for authorization. But the cards were fakes, and the authorization calls connected the bank to none other than Niesha Jackson.

Authorities eventually caught on. After Barksdale pleaded guilty to a single count of bank fraud, Jackson had some decisions to make.

She pleaded guilty as well, but on the day in 2011 when she was supposed to show up in court for sentencing, Jackson took off.

The stunt landed her an appearance on American Greed: The Fugitivesin 2012, in an episode called "Bank Robbing Babe." Not only did she apparently enjoy the episode, she really took her brush with fame to heart.

She began wearing a custom-made American Greed t-shirt, with her moniker "Bank Robbing Babe" splashed across the front. She even had business cards made up.

"That's almost like wearing a wanted poster," United States Marshal Kelly Pope told American Greed.

Sure enough, while she was letting the fame go to her head, Niesha Jackson was forgetting about using her brain to outsmart the authorities. She has traded her American Greed top for a prison uniform, which she will be wearing until her release, scheduled in 2027.

FBI: Government conspiracy group may have helped fugitives escape

(CNN)John and Julieanne Dimitrion scammed good people out of their homes, the FBI says, and then they disappeared.

They were the "masterminds of a large fraud scheme," the FBI's Brandon Simpson told CNN's "The Hunt with John Walsh," which hit Tricia Dano's family especially hard


Dano blames the Dimitrions for the loss of their cherished family home in Honolulu's Kaimuki neighborhood.

For Dano, it started in 1999 when she moved from Washington state back to Hawaii to help her mother take care of her ailing grandmother. Her grandmother "felt that if she was going to pass, she wanted to be at home, right where she belonged," Dano said.

When the family began having trouble making house payments, they decided to refinance their mortgage. Seeing an ad for the Dimitrions' company, Mortgage Alliance on TV, Dano and her mother made an appointment.

The pitch

The Dimitrions didn't arrive until an hour into the meeting, Dano recalled. The couple made a memorable impression as they made their pitch wearing designer clothes and expensive jewelry.

The FBI said the Dimitrions pitched their scam like this: "We will have someone buy your property — but in name only. You'll continue to live there and we'll fix your credit and a year from now you'll be able to buy that property back. You won't lose it to foreclosure and you can keep your family home."

"I thought, 'These people definitely know what they're doing,'" recalled Dano. "So we signed over the title, thinking that, 'OK this is the first step to the rent-to-own process.'"

Then the Dimitrions found a "straw buyer" who purchased the Dano property in their name. That buyer was an acquaintance named Laura Cristo. "They explained it to me that it was a short sale, that I wasn't getting involved," Cristo said.

She thought the Dimitrions were good people trying to help others, so Cristo said "OK." "I just started initialing and signing," she remembered. "I never really read the papers."

'I decided to call the FBI'

Soon, people started coming by the Dano family home telling them it was either for sale or auction. That confused Dano because she'd been making payments. Now she wasn't sure what was happening to that money.

Then a mortgage company called Cristo asking why she wasn't making payments on the Dano family property. But that confused her, because she wasn't supposed to be paying anything at all.

So Cristo called Dano's mother to find out why the payments weren't being made.When they talked, they knew something was very wrong. "That's when I realized what kind of scam they were doing, and I decided to call the FBI," Cristo said.

The feds started digging.

The FBI learned that the Dimitrions were telling victims that their "money was going into an escrow account, but really that money was going into a Dimitrion slush fund account," said special agent Simpson.

Eventually, Dano and other victims found themselves being evicted out of their own homes by new owners who had bought the property at foreclosure auctions. Even after the scam had been exposed, there was little authorities could do. The property had been legally sold to someone else.

"None of these people were able to get their property back because it was for sale now at prices they couldn't afford," said Simpson. "I cried every night," said Dano. "I felt responsible because I made a promise to my grandmother."

'It was clear they had broken the law'

A grand jury indicted the Dimitrions for conspiracy to commit mail fraud, wire fraud, money laundering and making false statements on loan applications to obtain $1.3 million in new loans between 2005 and 2007, according to the Honolulu Star Advertiser.

"For both of them it was really a shock," said the Dimitrions' attorney Myles Breiner. "They wanted to explain themselves. From the evidence, in my opinion, it was clear they had broken the law. These loans were fraudulent mortgages and whatever explanation John or Julieanne was going to proffer was not going to change the fact that they had broken state and federal laws."

Under a plea agreement, they each pleaded guilty to one charge each of conspiracy to commit mail fraud, money laundering and making false statements on loan applications. He pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit wire fraud, but she did not, according to the Honolulu Star Advertiser.

They never showed up

At the sentencing hearing in 2010, more than 100 supporters waited in a courtroom for the Dimitrions to show up. But the couple never appeared.

Apparently, they'd decided to make a run for it rather than go to prison. Breiner, the Dimitrions' attorney, was stunned. "Julieanne could have ended up with little or no jail," Breiner said. "And John's amount of jail was under two years."

FBI tip: 'Conspiracy' group helped them escape

If you're a fugitive from justice, escaping an island located 2,400 miles from the mainland — especially when you appear in TV ads and your money and passports have been taken away — isn't easy.

So how did they do it?

Six to eight months after the sentencing hearing, the FBI got a very unusual tip. They heard that the Dimitrions might have had help fleeing the island from a group called the Republic for the United States of America (RUSA).

The group has a "certain paranoid belief that the government is controlled by some vast conspiracy," Breiner said.

"We believe that John may have convinced this group that he was a financial guru," said FBI special agent Nick Baron. "He was able to monetize natural resources and they were going to fund the new society that they wanted. This group hatched a plan to smuggle John and Julieanne off the island via a private jet."

RUSA sent "The Hunt" a response to the FBI's allegations, saying, it "does not advocate fraud or unlawfulness of any type and is solely dedicated to the ultimate, peaceful return of our nation to its original constitutional principles of government."

The Dimitrions left behind them a trail of sadness from their many victims who were scammed out of their homes, including Dano and her beloved grandmother, who never did return to her precious home.

"My grandmother passed Mother's Day weekend in 2010," said Dano. "She had her house on her mind until the day she died."

10 Fugitives Captured Under Remarkable Circumstances

If you commit a crime, you will most likely be caught. However, some criminals have evaded capture, and it was only through the intervention of luck and hard work that they were caught. Sometimes, new technologies or new ideas have resulted in fugitives being caught. Either way, it was through remarkable means that many of these elusive criminals were found and caught by the authorities.


10.Joseph Kimsey:Caught By A Family’s Pet Goat

In February 2015, an unusual story came from Colorado, where a soldier with an outstanding animal abuse charge was found, ironically, by an animal. Joseph Kimsey, who also went by Joseph Hargett, had fled a traffic stop in El Paso County, where he had been stationed in a combat brigade. Authorities gave chase, and he eventually abandoned his pickup truck. The car chase then became a manhunt.

When the Browning family was informed by the state patrol that there was a wanted fugitive on the run in the area, they were on edge and started to lock their doors just in case. It was then that they noticed that their six-year-old goat, Dwight, was staring at what appeared to be nothing more than bushes. As John Browning put it, “One more time I’ll just quickly check all the doors and windows and make sure they’re locked, and I just happened to glance down this way [points at his goats], and I said, ‘Kathy, Dwight’s looking at someone.’ ” That’s when Browning saw that their goat was staring directly at Kimsey, who was hiding in the bushes. Kimsey went to their neighbor’s house, but the Brownings called their neighbors, who then talked Kimsey into surrendering to the authorities.

Many say that if it weren’t for Dwight the goat pointing out the fugitive in hiding, Kimey would still be on the run. Nick Browning, John’s son, said about the goat: “He’s a hero. [ . . . ] He deserves the key to the city!”

9.Leslie Isben Rogge:The First Man Caught By The FBI’s Website

Leslie Isben Rogge is most notable as the first fugitive captured by the FBI’s website. His story dates back to when the Internet was first being recognized as a crime-fighting tool. Rogge committed over 30 bank robberies. He was put on the FBI’s Most Wanted List in 1990 but fled the United States about two years later. After he left the country, the case went cold.

In 1996, a teenager living in Guatemala was using the Internet and checked out the FBI’s website. He looked over the wanted posters and saw that one of them looked remarkably similar to a family friend named “Uncle Bill,” who had helped him install his computer weeks before. The wanted fugitive was Leslie Isben Rogge. After the teen reported his find to the FBI, the subsequent manhunt and media frenzy forced Rogge to turn himself in to the US embassy in Guatemala City.

Rogge’s capture using such an innovative tool (for the time) helped to convince the FBI to use the Internet more often in their crime-fighting efforts. With the help of cyberspace, they now had a potentially international weapon to fight crime.

8.Eduardo Rodriguez:Caught Through Facebook

Eduardo Rodriguez was the second-in-command of a Los Angeles gang when he was indicted for four homicides and two attempted homicides. In 2001, he allegedly killed Margie Mendoza, a mother of three, while she was sitting in her car. It wasn’t until 2003 that the police managed to tie Rodriguez to Mendoza’s death, but by then, he was on the run, and he wouldn’t be seen until a decade later in a very unusual place.

Fast-forward to 2015. Rodriguez has been the LAPD’s “most wanted” for over a decade. Detectives in Glendale reignited the case when one of them saw a recent picture of Rodriguez on the Facebook page of one of his gang associates. It was originally believed that Rodriguez had fled to Mexico after he received word that the police were looking for him. He actually went to the nearby community of Riverside, where he worked as a carpenter, found a fiancee, visited Las Vegas, and even went to Griffith Observatory in Los Angeles without getting noticed by law enforcement.

One evening when Rodriguez went to work, the authorities came in and took him into custody 12 years after they first indicted him. Rodriguez concealed his identity pretty well; his fiancee was “genuinely shocked.” In fact, his neighbor described him as a nice man. Whatever the case, as of this writing, Rodriguez is awaiting trial.

7.Dominic Reddick:Caught Taking Doughnuts From The Trash

In February 2003, Dominic Reddick was accused of killing a police officer in Orlando, along with multiple armed assaults. He went on the run, sparking a fierce manhunt that spanned two states and involved hundreds of officers who were desperate to find Reddick. After months and months of searching, Reddick was finally caught in a depressing state. A woman who had heard of the case called the police after she saw Reddick digging for doughnuts in a garbage bin.

Reddick had wanted to flee to the Cayman Islands, where he had family. He had escaped from a prison transfer, barefoot and shackled. He managed to reach Georgia after allegedly paying a woman $1,000 to take him to Savannah. While the police discredited this story, they still had no answers as to how Reddick got so far.

It seemed that Reddick wanted to be captured because of his poor health, starved state, and the fact that it was mid-December. He claimed that he wanted the doughnuts because he’d had nothing to eat for some time. The garbage bin was outside of a convenience store on an interstate. Coincidentally, the convenience store was being used as a command post by police searching for him in the area. It took only 15 minutes for dogs to pick up his scent.

After a chase by authorities, Reddick was taken into custody and sent back to Florida, where he was treated for cuts and scrapes that he had received from hiding in swamps and forests. He had also developed pneumonia.

6.Thomas Holden:The First Man On The FBI’s Most Wanted List

While Leslie Isben Rogge was the first FBI fugitive captured by the Internet, Thomas Holden was the first to have his face put on the FBI’s Ten Most Wanted Fugitives list. Holden, along with his accomplice, Francis Keating, were prolific bank robbers during the 1920s and the 1930s. They were first captured in 1928 and given 25 years each. They were sent to Leavenworth Prison, one of the most famous prisons in the US. However, they wouldn’t be locked up for long.

In 1930, after serving just two years, Holden and Keating escaped from prison with the help of fellow bank robber George “Machine Gun” Kelly. After they got out, Holden and Keating started to rob banks again. Their crime spree would last until 1932, when they were captured again. They returned to Leavenworth, and the authorities were sure that Holden and Keating wouldn’t escape again. Their prediction was true; Holden and Keating served their time.

Holden was paroled in 1947. It seemed that his life of crime was over, but that wasn’t the case. In 1949, after being a free man for two years, Holden killed his wife and two of her brothers after a drunken argument. In 1950, the FBI was still desperately looking for Holden when they came up with a brilliant idea. They released the Ten Most Wanted Fugitives list. Holden was the inaugural fugitive. A year after the list was first released, someone recognized Holden, who lived nearby and worked as a plasterer. The FBI arrested him at his work. He was later given a life sentence and died in prison. The Most Wanted list went on to become one of the most iconic crime-fighting devices.

5.Clarence David Moore:Turned Himself In For Health Care

In April 2015, Ronnie Dickinson turned himself in to authorities and claimed that he had been a fugitive on the run for nearly 40 years. The police had never heard of him because his name was actually Clarence David Moore. Moore had committed a series of crimes and escaped prison. He’d evaded capture for 39 long years.

Moore’s reason for the anticlimactic end to his time on the run was simple: He wanted the health care offered in prison. Moore was 66 years old and had been living in Frankfort, Kentucky, for some time without any trouble. He hadn’t aroused any suspicion. No one suspected him at all. In fact, neighbors knew him as a kind, albeit sickly, man. According to them, he was a diabetic.

Moore first went to prison in the 1970s in North Carolina but escaped in 1971, only to be caught hours later. After several other escape attempts, Moore finally disappeared for good in 1975—until he turned himself in. He had had a stroke, which made speech difficult and left him partially paralyzed. Because he had nowhere near the kind of money needed for treatment, and he had no valid social security under his alias, he gave himself up to authorities to receive the treatment he needed.

Would Moore have been captured if he hadn’t turned himself in? We will never know, but we do know that Moore won’t return to the North Carolina facility he escaped from. It closed its doors in 2002.

4.Chris Gay:Arrested After Stealing A Tour Bus

Chris Gay has quite a reputation. He has escaped from law enforcement 13 times in some of the most brash ways possible. Because of his reputation as an escape artist, Gay has been called “Little Houdini.” However, his life of crime came to an end in 2007, after he stole singer Crystal Gayle’s touring bus. He was found a day later at the Daytona International Speedway, where he said he was tired of running.

Chris Gay had been on the run for 20 years when he was caught. His criminal career began when he was young. He came from a poor Southern family that could afford very few luxuries. Gay and his brother began to steal poultry and snacks from local shops. Soon, they moved from small items to bicycles, then ATVs, and finally, they began to steal cars. They evaded authorities every time. On one occasion, Gay was taken to a juvenile detention center. Later, the sheriff who brought him there went to a convenience store to buy a drink. Gay had broken out of the detention center and was there waiting for the sheriff.

Gay would continue to commit crimes and evade authorities until the 2007 incident, in which he escaped from a prison transport so he could see his mother, who was dying of cancer. After stealing multiple vehicles to elude authorities, Gay stole Crystal Gayle’s bus and went to the USA International Speedway, where he claimed to be NASCAR driver Tony Stewart’s transport. He left after the manager of the speedway became suspicious. He was reported to authorities. He was caught after asking for directions from a prostitute (who was actually with the police) and was placed under arrest. Gay would escape again in 2009, but he was caught soon after. He has remained in prison since.

3.Ethan Couch:Caught After Ordering A Pizza

Ethan Couch has recently returned to the media spotlight after first becoming famous in 2013 for getting away with killing four people in a drunk driving incident by using the “affluenza defense.” Couch’s lawyers claimed that he had been so protected and coddled by his parents’ money that he couldn’t discern between right and wrong. Couch was given probation. He wasn’t allowed to drink while on probation. Recently, a video emerged in which Couch was at a party where alcohol was being consumed. Since he broke the terms of his probation, Couch ran the risk of going to jail. Rather than face the music, he and his mother fled the country.

For several days, the authorities searched for Couch and his mother. A lead came when one of the family’s phones showed that they had ordered a Domino’s pizzain the coastal resort town of Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. The two were immediately found in a condominium, and Couch was detained and taken to a deportation facility, where he is currently fighting to stay in Mexico. Couch’s mother was deported from the country and faces charges for hindering the apprehension of a minor, a charge which carries a sentence of 2–10 years in prison. It soon emerged that Couch and his mother had even had a “going away” party, which seems to indicate that it had all been planned.

Many have criticized the judge’s original 2013 ruling, and they now take these recent events as evidence that Couch has learned nothing and needs to receive punishment. If Couch is found guilty of violating his probation, at most, he will receive 120 days in jail.

2.Neil Stammer:Captured By Facial Recognition Software

For years, many doubted that the victims of child molester Neil Stammer would ever receive justice. Unlike most criminals who try to escape capture, Neil Stammer had a pretty good chance of getting away with his crimes. He could speak multiple languages and was well-traveled, so he knew how to hide outside of the United States. However, through the extraordinary efforts of the FBI, Stammer was caught in 2014 after 14 years on the run.

Stammer was a talented juggler. As a teenager, he took up juggling to make ends meet, and he soon became world-famous for it. By the time he was 32, Stammer owned a magic shop in New Mexico. From there, his story took a dark turn. In 1999, Stammer was arrested on multiple charges, including kidnapping and child sex crimes. He posted bail but never showed up for arraignment. In 2000, New Mexico issued an arrest warrant, and federal fugitive charges were later filed. When the FBI took over the case, they had their work cut out for them. Stammer, as mentioned before, could read and speak multiple languages and was quite well-traveled. There were few leads, and the case went cold.

In 2014, Special Agent Russ Wilson was given the case. He focused on it because of its apparent impossibility, but through a remarkable coincidence, Stammer was found. A special agent with the Diplomatic Security Service was testing facial recognition software on visas and passports. As the agent was working, he decided on a whim to test the software on the FBI’s most wanted. To his surprise, he found a match. Stammer had a passport under a different name. The agent contacted Wilson, who discovered that Stammer was living comfortably in Nepal as an English teacher. While Nepal has no extradition treaty with America, they helped with the FBI’s efforts, and Stammer was brought to justice.

1.Vincens Vuktilaj:Captured After Shutting Down New York’s Subway System

Rather than being a fugitive for several days, months, or years, Vincens Vuktilaj was on the run from police for only a few hours, but during that time, he caused the entire Harlem subway system to shut down as he tried to evade capture. A subway shutting down in part of the most populous city in the US can cause more than a few people to be inconvenienced.

It all began in 2013, when 18-year-old Vuktilaj was arrested for approaching two older women and stealing their necklaces. He made bail and then celebrated his birthday and was rearrested just one day later. While handcuffed and shoeless, Vuktilaj managed to shove away one of the detectives leading him to a squad car and proceeded to run to the subway and into the tunnels.

Service lines in Manhattan, Brooklyn, and the Bronx were all stopped while an army of police and dogs searched for Vuktilaj. After two hours, the trains began to operate again. For three hours, the police continued to search for the handcuffed fugitive. It became clear that Vuktilaj didn’t want to use the subway as a hiding place. Rather, it was a makeshift getaway plan to escape from the police. While using mass transit to avoid being caught might have seemed like the ultimate way to escape, the New York police managed to block every escape, destroying any chance that Vuktilaj would get away. After five hours, he was found and taken into custody, where he faced further charges for resisting arrest and felony assault.

How Some Criminals Evade the Cops for Decades

Most crooks eventually get caught, but some members of Italian organized crime syndicates remain on the lam for decades. How do they do it?


Every so often, authorities capture a member of an Italian organized crime syndicate who's been on the run for many years. They come from all the major organizations—the once-dominant Cosa Nostra of Godfather and Sopranos Fame , the up-and-coming 'Ndrangheta, and the slow-and-steady Camorra. And they pop up all over the world, from rural farmhouses in Italy (where one Cosa Nostra boss who managed to lay low for 43 years was caught in 2006) to mild-mannered English suburbs, all the way to Recife, Brazil, where local police made the most recent high-profile bust late last month, taking down a Camorra boss who'd managed to start a new family using a new face and a new name for 28 years.

If you read about these long-term fugitives often enough, it's easy to feel like staying on the lam for decades is no big deal.

But for almost any other criminal, even ten years on the run is extraordinary. When, in 2011, American law enforcement finally managed to arrest notorious Boston Irish gangster James "Whitey" Bulger—the inspiration for Jack Nicholson's character in The Departed—it was considered miraculous and unusual that he'd managed to stay hidden for 16 years, a fraction of what some Mafiosi fugitives achieve.

Not every Mafioso is adept at evading the law, of course. In 2014, for instance, Italy managed to round up well over 100 members of the 'Ndrangheta. And not every Mafioso tries to escape justice by fleeing and assuming a new identity. In 2011, one member of the 'Ndrangheta was found trying to outwait the heat on him in a cushy bunker built a junkyard.

Still, the sheer number of Mafiosi who escape for so long raises serious questions as to whether or not these Italian mobsters are just better at hiding than other criminals—and if so, how they pull it off.

Eager to figure out why we hear so much about decades-long Mafiosi fugitives, I reached out to Howard Blum, a former New York Times investigative reporter and author of Gangland: How the FBI Broke the Mob , which centers on John Gotti of the American-Italian Gambino mafia and his evasion of justice. I also reached out to Richard Lehr, a former investigative reporter at the Boston Globeand author of Black Mass: The Irish Mob, The Underboss: The Rise and Fall of a Mafia Family , and Whitey: The Life of America's Most Notorious Mob Boss , for some comparative perspective on the fugitive life of non-mafia criminals.

VICE: Are Italian mafias better than other criminal groups at spiriting people underground or out of the country for prolonged periods of time? 
Richard Lehr: They certainly have an organization that a lot of criminals don't have. A lot of street-level criminals who go on the run, they're basically on their own, which is the case of Whitey Bulger as well. But the mafia certainly has the kind of international organization where, if someone has to go on the run, he can resurface in some foreign village or someplace and live a different life.

William Blum: I don't think that there's any organized program of spiriting people away. There are two things: One is common sense. You change the way you look and you stay away from the people you usually hung out with. Two is if you're found out, you engage in intimidation. You use fear.

Why is it so hard for ordinary criminals to just sever their ties and walk away?
Blum: I think it's basically a psychological fortitude that certain people have. They can put the past behind them. They can walk away from ties to family. They can walk away form ties to the mob and just be isolated. If you can stop living the gangster's life, you have a much better chance of succeeding in your new identity.

Lehr: That's one of the biggest challenges for any fugitive. And that is remarkable when anyone has managed to stay out there for 20 or 30 years, because when you think about it, they're used to being the big man.

When you're on the run, not only do you have to cut ties, but you've got to someone find a way to calm [that ego] down or find different ways to satisfy your egomaniacal ways. And a lot of people, I think if you did a study you'd find, are caught rather quickly. They don't know what they're doing. They really don't know their way around the world after they leave their neighborhood street corner. So they call their old neighborhoods [saying], "I need help." And the US Marshals are all over them. So it requires a whole bunch of discipline in all different kinds of ways.

Why does the mafia has such a good track record of breeding people who can fully sever their ties and then evade justice for years or even decades on end? 
I think the structure has some role in it. It is a mob and you have a role in the mob. It's your identity as a mobster by being part of the group. You're a soldier. You're a capo. You're someone in a regime. Once you separate yourself from that group, once you don't have that identity, you have a new definition of self. And you live with this new definition of yourself.

Perhaps you're still a tough guy. But you're not a tough guy as part of the mob. You don't have the mob to back you up. So you live a bit more cautiously, more prudently.

How do Mafiosi manage to flee so far and survive so well away from their gangs? 
Blum: People who have access to funds can go further and live longer in hiding.

Lehr: [Whitey was] brilliant in anticipating that someday he might have to take off. So he hid money in safety deposit boxes. If you're smart about it, you're planning ahead for that sort of thing. [In the mafia] if you can find a back channel and you're still in good standing, they can help to take care of you, get you what you need.

But not a lot of non-mafia [have that]. They tend to be on their own and it's risky and bad to make a call back to the old neighborhood and say, "Hey, I need some support."

How exceptional it is for your average criminal to escape justice for decades? 
Lehr: I don't have numbers or data, but getting a sense from dealing with the US Marshals whose job it is to find fugitives, I think [Bulger] would be in the category of a minority of people who manage to stay out there as long as he did without tripping up.

How many more crooks and Mafiosi might be floating around, uncaught, for long periods of time? 
Blum: I think there are a lot of them. The longer you're away from home, if you can get away without missing [your old life], you'll succeed.

But ultimately many of them can't change who they were. 

How Long Could You Hide from the Police?

Perhaps you are like us and you’ve often wondered, “if I were on the run from the law, how long would I make it before being caught?”

Data scientist Christopher Peters decided to figure it out, compiling data on the 500 criminals that have been on the FBI’s Most Wanted Fugitives List since 1950. He determined how long each criminal was on the list before being caught (though some have yet to be caught).

The next step was to calculate how long the average fugitive was on the run. However, Peters couldn’t just take a simple average. The problem was that there are criminals out there still on the loose. If he omits them from the data set, that would change the question of the research to “For the criminals stupid enough to get caught, how long did they remain free?” Which isn’t the question we’re asking. 

To work around this problem, Peters sought to calculate how much longer these still-wanted criminals could expect to remain uncaught. He used a statistical tool called survival analysis(often used in medical research). This method would help estimate how much longer fugitives who haven’t been caught yet could expect to remain at-large. 

After running this analysis, Peters concluded that the average fugitive on the Most Wanted List remains free for about 1.67 years:


As you can see, a fugitive’s chances don’t look so good. Only 25% of all wanted criminals had not been caught within 1 year of being put on the list. Under 10% of fugitives remained free for 5 years. Bin Laden was technically at-large for over 10 years, but he also had the luxury of heavily guarded caves and compounds. But for the most part, law enforcement does a solid job of rounding up crooks once they end up on the Most Wanted List.

But say you were on the run from the law. What's the optimal strategy for evading the police in the long run? Do you think you could avoid being captured for longer than the median amount of time?

1. Never contact family directly. Always use a middle man.
2. Use cash only, $20s and under.
3. Go where there’s no one else. Woods, islands, sewer systems, etc.
4. Don’t make trouble.
5. Never stop looking over your shoulder.