What’s 25 years old and has been keeping your secrets for a quarter of a century?
It’s Crime Stoppers, the program originally designed to make it easier for those in the know to turn in a wanted culprit. Since the program was launched here in 1984, it’s been an astonishing success, resulting in thousands of tips, hundreds of arrests, untold pounds of illegal drugs seized and a growing cache of unregistered weapons taken off the streets.
It’s also doled out a bank load of cash rewards for those brave enough to send in an anonymous tip.
January is Crime Stoppers month in Toronto, an event recognized at Toronto Police Headquarters on Tuesday, celebrating 2008 results that saw 8,697 tips phoned in, 718 cases solved, 649 arrests made, $223 million in drugs seized and some $7 million in stolen property recovered.
Citytv has been a charter member of this partnership with law enforcement since it began.
You know by now how it works – you call the number, (416) 222-TIPS, access the website at 222tips.com or even text your message to 274637 (CRIMES) and leave your information. But you may have wondered – if they don’t take your name, how do they get you the money?
It’s a common question with a not so common answer.
There’s no call display. There’s no way to trace your call. And the operator won’t demand any I.D. – even if you want to volunteer it.
In most cases, when you call during the day, you’ll be speaking to a police officer. Dial after hours, and you’ll get a live person who’s not in law enforcement. But someone will be there 24 hours a day.
“They won’t ask you your name,” Det. Larry Straver tells CityNews.ca. “They’ll basically just get your information, take it down, and what we do is pass it on to where it’s needed. The investigators get it as soon as we can get it out to them.”
All callers are given an I.D. number that they’re asked to keep track of. If their tip leads to an arrest, that’s all they’ll need to collect.
“Basically we give them a bank transaction number,” Straver outlines. “They go to any T.D. Canada Trust in the greater Toronto area, and the bank employees are well versed on how Crime Stoppers works.
“They check it on their computer to assure that we’ve okayed that amount, and once they see that it’s okay, they put the money in an envelope and out the door they walk.”
What about passing on a tip online?
Straver says they’ve got that covered, too. “Once you send it, it’s encrypted in such a way that the I.P. address, everything that will identify your computer or where it came from, is stripped off it, and then it come to us in straight text.
“And we need a password to open it up and it just pops up as text with nothing else.”
Online submitters get a form that covers all bases. It has space for you to submit information on a suspect (including their name, gang affiliation, their tattoos and even if they have any animals); the kind of car they’re driving; any drugs that are involved (with questions that range from ‘where are they being sold’ to ‘what containers are used to hold them’); and a place to upload a picture file if needed.
When you submit that tip, you receive a special code number on the next screen that allows you to claim your bounty.
And the detective reminds would-be callers they don’t even have to know a lot about the crime to dial the digits or click that mouse.
“People talk and people hear what’s going on. So they can call after the fact. They can hear third hand and send that information through Crime Stoppers and just give us a little bit of information that might help.”
You don’t have to follow the story to find out if your tip helped. Just call the (416) 222-TIPS number 6-8 weeks after you left your info and find out if you’re in the money.
So how much will you get?
The rewards range from $50 to $2,000, depending on the kind of crime you’re reporting. A Crime Stoppers rep tells CityNews.ca that someone driving without a license won’t be worth as much as info on a murder.
But they welcome both.
Why call? You can earn a few bucks and do the right thing, all without putting yourself in danger.
And it’s hard to put a price on that.