Since it’s inception in 1988, Near North Crime Stoppers has seized $51.5 million worth of drugs and recovered $4.2 million in property from information received through anonymous tips.
So far this year, it has seized $16,000 in drugs and recovered $12,000 worth of property thanks to tipsters.
North Bay police coordinator for Crime Stoppers, Jean Lemieux, says the organization basically works as the “middleman,” passing information over to police.
“It is a very valuable tool for police officers because when a crime is committed, someone other than the criminal knows what happened, who did it, and how they did it. When you’re investigating a crime, you know someone knows, but that person doesn’t come forward. So by using Crime Stoppers, because it is anonymous, people will feel more secure, and they provide the information to Crime Stoppers, and in turn, we provide it to police, and a lot of times it’s solved,” said Lemieux.
Year to date, the non-profit organization has received 681 tips, leading to 12 arrests, and 37 charges laid.
“The increase in tips this year, I would attribute that to basically the board members because it’s run by a board of volunteers. They’re out there and they’re promoting the Crime Stoppers program. So the more people that know about the program, the more tips we get,” said Lemieux.
He also credits tipsters using new technology in the form of the Web-Tip option. So far this year, 62% of the tips have been web-based.
“It is still anonymous through encryption and encoding. We don’t know where the tip comes from. It will feel more secure, especially for the younger generation by providing tips through the web.”
Those tips can come from anywhere in the country.
“There is the Ontario Association of Crime Stoppers and the Canadian Association of Crime Stoppers, with the same phone number, the same web page. Anybody can be anywhere and provide the information. It doesn’t matter if you’re in Vancouver, and you know something happened in North Bay. They can call the Vancouver Crime Stoppers, and they will send the information to us.”
Moving forward, Lemieux says the organization will need to keep up with technology.
“This is something that we discussed at the provincial and national level with the organization.”
Funding is essential in order to keep the program going.
“I think it started about 10 years ago that we knocked on doors, and got the phones going as a provincial body, as a provincial association, to try to get funding. It costs $225,000 a year to provide the 24-hour answering service. We’ve been fortunate enough that we have received that money yearly from the government, but we still have another year to go. In two years we’ll go back and provide the stats again and hopefully, the government will be able to support it.”
Locally the non-profit has approved $3,850 in reward money so far this year, $228,000.over the past 30 years.
Over the past three decades, Crime Stoppers has received just over 17,800 tips, leading to more than 1,660 arrests. Close to 2,700 cases have been cleared.
Chief Shawn Devine credits the organization for being a “great tool to have in its toolbox.”
“I have to say I was really shocked by the information that was presented that 75% of the people that are calling in, aren’t calling in for financial gain, they’re actually calling in because they want to give information. And to me, that speak volumes for the quality of people within this city saying somebody is doing something, here’s the information. They want those people to be accountable,” said Devine.