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Wal-Mart, QUALCOMM Partner on AMBER Alerts

Retailing giant Wal-Mart said this week it will put some 7,200 truck drivers to work helping to locate abducted children with the help of wireless technology from QUALCOMM .

As part of its Roadwatch: Missing Child Alert program, Wal-Mart Wednesday said it will use a wireless logistics service from the San Diego, Calif.-based wireless giant to send alerts to truck drivers who are in the region where the child was last seen.

"Our drivers are so excited," Wal-Mart spokesperson Sharon Weber told internetnews.com. "For so long, they've wanted to be more involved in our Missing Children's Network."

The AMBER Plan was created in 1996 as a legacy to 9-year-old Amber Hagerman, who was kidnapped and murdered while riding her bicycle in Arlington, Texas. The tragedy prompted a national call to broadcast special "alerts" to the public that they could help prevent such incidents in the future.

Bentonville, Ark.-based Wal-Mart launched its Missing Children's Network in 1996 in partnership with the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC), a private nonprofit that works with the U.S. department of Justice's Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention. The program includes bulletin boards displaying pictures of missing children in its stores. One such program, known as a "Code Adam" is a safety procedure designed to lock and search a store in case of a lost child incident while a family is shopping there. Wal-Mart also supports a television public service announcement, and provision of child safety information to 78 million homes in its weekly household flier.

In the new Roadwatch initiative, when NCMEC receives news of a missing child via the AMBER system, it will send it to QUALCOMM. The company will then use its OmniTRACS mobile communications system to determine which drivers to alert. With about 59,000 trucks covering 60 million miles a month, Wal-Mart drivers will be in an excellent position to keep an eye out for the perp's vehicle.

"That's a lot of eyes," Weber said.