To report or not to report? That is the question that citizens will often ask themselves when faced with having to turn in a relative on a warrant; or a neighbor who looks exactly like a composite sketch of a rapist; or a co-worker that resembles the surveillance video of a bank robbery suspect.
"Doing the right thing" is oftentimes not easy. Deciding to act can be a difficult process wrought with questions of "What if they find out I'm the one that came forward? Will I be in danger? What if it turns out to be the wrong person?" Each question is a real concern, which we hope to address here today by reminding everyone about the Crime Stoppers program.
For starters, offering anonymity is the foundation of Crime Stoppers. Rest assured that when you contact Crime Stoppers no one will ever ask for your name or any personal information. Crime Stoppers is only interested in your tip regarding a crime. Tipsters have three ways to provide information to Crime Stoppers: via the 24 hour tip line; online; or by text from a cellular phone. Tipsters are assigned a code number that is unique only to them and which they are responsible for remembering for future contact. The tip information is then forwarded to law enforcement for investigation. Through that investigation, tips may be ruled out and closed; or in the best case scenario closed "solved" with an arrest.
As an added incentive, tips resulting in an arrest are eligible for a cash reward of up to $1,000. Remember that to be eligible for the reward, you must first provide your tip to Crime Stoppers.
Getting paid for "doing the right thing" and remaining anonymous…that's Crime Stoppers.
From its inception, Crime Stoppers has operated on the premise that someone other than the perpetrator has information about a crime that could help investigators solve the case.
Crime Stoppers has its roots in Albuquerque, New Mexico, where in 1976 detectives who were investigating the homicide of a young gas station attendant approached a local television station for help. The detectives, who had exhausted all leads, asked the station to air a reenactment of the crime, established an anonymous tip line and offered a reward. The unprecedented tactic resulted in the receipt of a tip that led to the arrest of the murder suspects.
Today there are over 1200 Crime Stoppers organizations worldwide including one in Pinellas County. Formed in 2001, Crime Stoppers of Pinellas County, Inc. is funded through a grant with the office of the Florida Attorney General Crime Stoppers Fund. The Crime Stoppers Coordinator oversees the daily program operations and coordinates the efforts of the community, law enforcement and the media in a unified effort to reduce crime in Pinellas County. While Crime Stoppers is housed at the Pinellas County Sheriff's Office, it not only works on Sheriff's Office cases, but cooperates with all police departments in the county as well as with state or federal law enforcement.
To date, anonymous Crime Stopper tips have lead to 602 arrests in Pinellas County and have solved 1,420 cases. In addition, $4,558,394.00 in property or narcotics has been recovered. Since 2001, approximately $128,600 in reward money has been recommended, however the tipsters have only picked up about $60,790. The fact is that some people are not concerned about the reward money; they just want to provide the information anonymously.
It's important to note that Crime Stoppers of Pinellas Inc. has formed various partnerships in its years of work:
We urge citizens who have any information that may assist law enforcement in their investigations to take full advantage of our Crime Stoppers program. Additionally, we encourage citizens that have any further questions or concerns about the program to please contact the Sheriff's Public Information Office at (727) 582-6221 or visit the website listed above.