As crime-busting tools go, the Top Ten Most Wanted list posted by the Hennepin County Sheriff's Office can't be beat for getting the most bang for the buck.
"You can reach worldwide with just a photo and a website," said Deputy Tim Chmielewski, who oversees the list through the department's extradition office and is currently assigned to the Minnesota Fugitive Task Force.
The list -- which can be found on the county website, Facebook and occasionally on TV -- is one of a number of similar most wanted lists kept by Minnesota law enforcement agencies.
The criminals on Hennepin's list, all of whom have outstanding felony warrants, aren't necessarily the most dangerous offenders on the lam, though.
Instead, the list is designed to raise awareness about a cross-section of the county's most serious crimes, Chmielewski said.
"We could put 10 murder suspects on the list ... but it's not a contest to see who's most violent," he said. "For instance, Minnesotans for Safe Driving has encouraged us to select multiple DWI offenders."
Nevertheless, Chmielewski said, the people on the list should be considered dangerous and brought to the attention of police or deputies, and not confronted.
The sheriff's office and CrimeStoppers of Minnesota get dozens of tips off this list and others each year.
In recent weeks, two offenders on the Hennepin list were captured. They were replaced last week on the list with a woman with DWI convictions and another woman convicted of aggravated robbery.
One of the longest running names on the Hennepin list has been that of Mahamud Abdullahi Isse, 77, who didn't show up for a 2007 court date on a criminal sexual conduct charge.
He was taken off the list this week because he is thought to be in Djibouti, a small African nation that has no extradition treaty with the United States. Lisa Kiava, a Sheriff's Office spokeswoman, said that his case remains active but further publicity on the list probably won't bring about his arrest.
In his place, Steven Allen Ableman Jr. was added to the list at the request of Hopkins police. Ableman, 29, who was convicted nine years ago of criminal vehicular homicide, is wanted on DWI and domestic assault warrants.
Sheriff Rich Stanek said that the list is a valuable and inexpensive tool that raises awareness.
"If nobody else wants you, the Hennepin County Sheriff's Office probably does. That's our motto," he said.
Kevin Duchschere • 612-673-4455