Authorities Credit Digital Billboards with Capture of East Coast Rapist

Mar 07, 2011, 17:23 ET from Outdoor Advertising Association of America

Violent Serial Rapist Apprehended 5 Days After Launch of Digital Billboard Campaign

WASHINGTON, March 7, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Authorities from multiple states and jurisdictions, including federal agencies, today credited a recent digital billboard campaign with helping to apprehend the suspected East Coast Rapist. Aaron H. Thomas was arrested Friday in New Haven, Connecticut, following a tip from the public and a DNA match to 12 reported cases of sexual assault over 12 years.

"Ultimately the billboard and media campaign led to a detailed tip to help to crack this case," said Ronald Hosko, Criminal Division at FBI's Washington Field Office, at a press conference this morning in Prince William County, VA. "The billboards were live last Monday, and by Friday the suspect was in custody."

Billboard operators CBS Outdoor, Clear Channel Outdoor, and Lamar Advertising Company volunteered to post an FBI wanted alert on digital billboards in Connecticut, Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, and Virginia. The alerts, which featured composite sketches of the suspect, along with a website and tip line, were posted on Monday, February 28 – the tip that led to his arrest came to authorities that same day. On Thursday, March 3, Aaron Thomas' DNA was collected for analysis, and on Friday morning the DNA match was confirmed.

"This case truly highlights the value of this partnership between the outdoor advertising industry and law enforcement, especially in the use of digital billboards," said Nancy Fletcher, President & CEO, Outdoor Advertising Association of America (OAAA). "This new and innovative technology serves as a vital tool to authorities when it's necessary to quickly get information out to as many people as possible. And, as the world has seen over the last few days – it works!"

Since the FBI launched its digital billboard partnership with OAAA, at least 40 cases have been solved as a direct result from tips from the public.

OAAA is the trade association for the more than 800 outdoor advertising companies that make up 90 percent of the industry's revenue. For 120 years, the association has been dedicated to leading and uniting a responsible outdoor advertising industry that is committed to serving the needs of advertisers, consumers and communities. Outdoor advertising companies generate $6.1 billion annually in ad revenues and donate space to charitable organizations in excess of $400 million each year. For more information, please visit

Contact: Nicole Hayes

(202) 833-5566

SOURCE Outdoor Advertising Association of America