Published in the Daily Mail on 02 June 2009
Four of the world’s most wanted criminals are hiding out in Britain.
The fugitives, all Eastern Europeans who have entered the country legally, are being sought for crimes including murder, rape, paedophilia, trafficking and drug smuggling.
Detectives have warned members of the public not to attempt to apprehend any of the men, who have been named and pictured in an appeal to find them.
They are among 16 foreigners thought to be on the run in this country.
Police have warned that all 16 are considered dangerous and some may have access to weapons.
Those on the run in London are three Poles and a Lithuanian wanted for violent sexual assaults, drug trafficking, people smuggling, fraud and robbery.
Under European Union rules, they would have been able to enter the country without a visa.
But some of those on the wanted list published by the charity Crimestoppers may have entered the country illegally and could be living under false identities.
The public manhunt achieved success within hours when Hungarian Balaz Asztalos was arrested at a fairground ride in Milton Keynes on Sunday.
The 25-year-old was caught running a bungee jump as part of a travelling fair.
He is suspected of raping a four-year-old girl and forcing another child to watch.
His details were first published on Sunday and Thames Valley Police arrested him after information received from a member of the public.
The 16 being sought here are thought to be living in areas including London, Middlesex, Sussex, Nottinghamshire and Cheshire.
They come from Poland, Georgia, Lithuania, Hungary and Albania. The majority – eight – are Albanian.
Lord Ashcroft, who founded Crimestoppers, said: ‘The initiative is well and truly an international one. Fugitives hide across the globe in all communities, large and small.
‘When you look at the criminals that are on the most wanted list they are truly horrible people and need to be caught.’
Crimestoppers’ Operation Infra, which stands for International Fugitive Round Up and Arrest, is the charity’s first worldwide hunt for suspects.
Up to 120 further suspected criminals were included on a wanted list circulated in the United States, Canada, Jamaica, Holland, Australia and Belgium.
The move follows the success of a similar operation in southern coastal Spain, a notorious hideout for British criminals.
Dave Cording, of Crimestoppers, said it was impossible to say how many suspected criminals are hiding in Britain or whether they are responsible for further crimes.
He said: ‘There will be some intelligence that suggests these individuals have been in, or are in, the UK and these are serious offences.
‘ We felt these are individuals where there is a good chance of tracking them down and arresting them.’
He added: ‘We get people who are committing crime elsewhere here in the UK, hiding among our communities.
‘Crimestoppers has enjoyed notable success in helping UK law enforcement track down UK fugitives hiding in Spain, so we are confident that the public will yet again help us to locate this new set of internationally wanted criminals.’
Other organisations involved in the move included the Serious and Organised Crime Agency (Soca) and the Metropolitan Police.
David Armond, international director at Soca, said: ‘Crimestoppers has been a major success, shrinking the globe and depriving criminals of places to hide.
‘Soca places great value on our collaboration and we are fully behind this new fugitives initiative.’