Maybe you’re like us and have often wondered, “How long would I get away from the police before I was caught?”
According to data scientist Christopher Peters, criminals on the FBI’s Most Wanted Fugitives List typically stay on the run for an average of about six years before being caught. This is calculated by looking at the total amount of time that all 500 fugitives have spent on the list since it was first created in 1950.
Peters tried to figure out how long these criminals who were still wanted could stay free. He used something in statistics called “survival analysis” (often used in medical research). This method would help figure out how much longer fugitives who haven’t been caught could expect to stay on the run.
1.67 years on average
After doing this analysis, Peters came to the conclusion that most people on the Most Wanted List stay free for 1.67 years on average without a new identity.
As you can see, a person on the run has limited chances. But once a criminal is on the Most Wanted List, law enforcement usually does an excellent job catching them. Only 25% of all criminals on the list hadn’t been caught a year after being put on it. Less than 10% of people on the run stayed free for five years. Bin Laden was technically free for over ten years but was safe in caves and compounds with many guards.
While some criminals are still at large today, Peters analyzed the information to determine what factors typically lead to a fugitive being caught quickly or slowly. Some common factors include having multiple arrest warrants out against you, committing especially violent crimes, and being located in specific locations around the country.
Despite these factors, however, it seems that most criminals are eventually brought to justice—a comforting thought for anyone worried about becoming the next fugitive on the list. Peters found that only 1% of fugitives were still at large after 20 years or more, demonstrating that while criminals are capable of eluding capture for long periods of time, it is ultimately a losing battle in most cases.
However, even with these potentially mitigating factors, time is still not necessarily on the fugitive’s side. After 20 years at large, only 1% of fugitives have yet to be apprehended, meaning that most fugitives will find themselves in police custody within a couple of decades at most. The longest fugitive on this list was Eric Rudolph, who evaded capture for 15 years before finally being taken in by law enforcement.
Overall, although some criminals are able to remain free for extended periods of time through clever hideouts and well-crafted cover stories, the odds eventually turn against them in the long run. Fugitive Edward Joseph Dwyer spent nearly 30 years on the run after escaping from prison in 1985–only to be caught earlier this year when he tried to renew his driver’s license under an assumed name.
On average, fugitives evade capture for around three years once they are on the FBI’s Most Wanted List.
There are many factors that can influence how long a fugitive remains at large, including their location and the methods used to track them. However, given the success rate of the FBI in apprehending fugitives, it is clear that no criminal can escape for good. Ultimately, the capture of any fugitive is only a matter of time.
One of the most common mistakes that fugitives make when trying to evade law enforcement is taking unnecessary risks. This can include things like travelling in large groups or exposing themselves to public places, which can quickly draw attention to their location and increase the likelihood of being caught. Additionally, many fugitives tend to underestimate the resources and skills that law enforcement agents have at their disposal, which can also lead to their capture. For these reasons, fugitive criminals must take precautions and exercise caution whenever possible to avoid detection and increase their chances of remaining on the run successfully.
Some tips that fugitive criminals can use to keep themselves undercover include:
1. Traveling solo or in small groups rather than in large, conspicuous groups. This makes it more difficult for law enforcement officials to detect them and increases their chances of blending in unnoticed with the crowd.
2. Avoid public places and high-traffic areas whenever possible. This reduces the likelihood of drawing unwanted attention from others and minimizes the use of security cameras that could capture their image or location data.
3. Be discreet and cautious when communicating online or over the phone, primarily if they use untraceable methods like chat apps or burner phones. These tools can help fugitives stay connected to necessary resources while staying under the radar.
4. Taking advantage of advanced surveillance technologies, such as motion-sensing cameras and tracking devices, to further enhance their ability to go undetected by law enforcement. These tools can help fugitive criminals stay aware of any potential threats or risks in the area while providing them with a broader range of escape options if needed.
5. Staying abreast of new developments and techniques that law enforcement uses to track down fugitives and adapting accordingly to stay ahead of the game. This can include monitoring police radio communications for potential leads or leveraging informants within the fugitive’s network to gather helpful intel on upcoming operations and investigations.
Fugitive criminals must be proactive in their efforts to remain undercover and stay one step ahead of law enforcement if they hope to evade capture for long. With the proper precautions and careful planning, however, it is undoubtedly possible for criminals to successfully elude authorities and remain on the run indefinitely.
A fugitive is someone who has unlawfully escaped from police custody or avoided arrest for an alleged crime. Unfortunately, how long a fugitive can expect to stay free largely depends on the criminal’s own level of preparation and luck. As law enforcement has improved over the years, fugitives are being identified and captured more quickly than ever before. Therefore, it is in their best interests to remain hidden, evade capture indefinitely, and use any means necessary to prevent law enforcement from connecting the fugitive with the criminal act.
To increase the fugitive’s chances of staying free, frequently changing locations,acquiring a new identity, and methods of travel are vital components. The most successful fugitive stories have often involved more prepared and lucky individuals than their peers. Nonetheless, even with such efforts, no fugitive can truly be sure how long they might stay free as justice continually evolves with technological advancements, making it easier to identify criminals on the run.