A Florida fugitive who spent months dodging arrest, and who taunted police on social media using a “Where’s Waldo?” meme, was arrested in Washington, D.C. this week.
Steven Victor Young, 33, was arrested by U.S. Marshals in the nation's capital on Jan. 7 at his mother’s house, Flagler County Sheriff’s Office said. Young had originally been arrested in 2018 for allegedly printing counterfeit bills, possession of forging instruments, and possession of a firearm by convicted felon. He posted bond, police said, but ditched a subsequent court appearance last April, and has been on the run ever since, according to court records.
Earlier this summer, in an attempt to track him down, the Flagler County Sheriff’s Office selected Young as a "contestant" on their weekly video series “Fugitive Friday Bingo,” which takes a playful approach to drawing attention to wanted area fugitives.
“This is a bad dude,” Sheriff Ricky Staly told the camera, referencing Young, as he stood beside a bingo ball machine. “You and I work for our money — he just likes to print it. Let’s put him in the ‘Green Roof Inn’,” he said, alluding to the county jail’s nickname.
But the sheriff quickly learned Young had his own sense of humor.
Shortly after the video was posted to Facebook on Aug. 2, Young publicly responded, seemingly taunting law enforcement using a Homer Simpson meme spoofing “Where’s Waldo?” The GIF depicts a distressed Homer hopelessly studying the back of a cereal box. An image caption reads “Waldo, where are you?!” as a Simpsons version of the crowd-blending cartoon character simultaneously wanders through the background.
Authorities remembered that when announcing Young's arrest.
“We didn’t find Waldo, but we did find Steven Young,” officials said in a statement announcing his capture this week.
While Staly, a 45-year police veteran, was amused by the GIF Young posted, he likened the stunt to kicking a hornet’s nest.
“I just told my fugitive unit, find his ass,” Staly explained.
“If he’s going to taunt us on social media, we’re going to get his ass and put him in jail and that’s what we did. It wasn’t very smart — you’re already being profiled, which means you’re on our radar as one of our fugitives we want to find and now you taunt us. Rest assured, if you taunt us, we’re just going to put more resources into finding you.”
Francisco Valdez, a convicted burglar and domestic abuser who violated his probation, also trolled the Flagler County Sheriff’s Office on social media after “winning” Fugitive Friday Bingo two years ago. Valdez, who responded on Facebook, jokingly demanded $10,000 to appear on their game show-esque Facebook series. Instead, Staly said, Valdez later cashed in on a pair of handcuffs and was arrested on Feb. 14, 2018.
Since 2017, “Fugitive Friday Bingo” has become somewhat of a cult ritual at the Florida sheriff’s office. Staly, who pioneered the series in 2017 shortly after being elected, said the crime bulletins were an instant hit with the public — and has led to the arrest of dozens of criminals. The apprehension rate of featured fugitives is 65 percent, the sheriff’s office said.
“We try to have a little fun with it and engage the community,” Staly told Oxygen.com. “I believe an engaged and informed community is a safe community.”
Staly credited the Brevard County Sheriff’s Office, which hosts a similar weekly series called “WHEEL OF FUGITIVE,” with the idea.
The concept, Staley said, is simple: a bingo ball machine, complete with 10 numbered balls — corresponding to the county’s most wanted fugitives — are selected by the sheriff and deputies. The ‘winning’ fugitive is then featured in the bulletin. The bingo ball machine, is an antique, Staly explained, which was purchased for roughly $2,000 with forfeiture money from a drug bust.
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