THE COMOX VALLEY RECORD was awarded a plaque earlier this year from the annual B.C. CrimeStoppers conference for public service announcements following a nomination by the Comox Valley Crime Stoppers. Record publisher Zena Williams accepts the plaque from Ken Simmonds

Crime Stoppers helps citizens battle crime

Program relies on anonymous tips and offers generous cash rewards

They don’t care who is calling, or how the information comes about, but for volunteers who work at Comox Valley Crime Stoppers, they hope the end result can aid RCMP to solve criminal activity.

Formed in 1989, the local program was created to provide support to the RCMP detachment to prevent and solve crimes through an anonymous tip line for instances where a person is unable or reluctant to report a criminal act or suspicious situation directly to police.

Anonymity is held at highest regard, and cash rewards up to $2,000 can be paid for information leading to an arrest and conviction.

Crime Stoppers was conceived through a partnership of the community, media and a policing agency, and in the Comox Valley, the organization has received up to 200 tips a year.

The program operates in more than 20 countries worldwide and since its conception in 1976, it has become the No. 1 community-based crime-solving organization in the world.

In the Comox Valley, the tip line —1-800-222-TIPS (8477) — is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week and is monitored at all times, although the line is not to be used for crimes in progress.

The local organization is also looking at using technology and social media as other options to provide tips such as texting, tweeting a tip or using Facebook, although they note they have to ensure the crux of the program — anonymity — must be protected at all times.

There is not any particular crime that is required to use the line; tips have been received for crimes involving drugs, stolen properties, mischief and even murder.

Comox Valley Crime Stoppers also operated the Most Wanted list, which is published on their website and in the media. The list helps the organization gather many tips, but it also serves two other functions — to track down those individuals who have failed to appear and to deter others in the community.

Until recently, the organization was supported financially from the gaming branch of the provincial government, donations and sponsorships. The organization no longer receives funding from the gaming branch, and is currently living off reserves while they look for new sources of funding.

Earlier this year, Comox Valley Crime Stoppers received a grant of $5,000 from the Civil Forfeiture Office in partnership with the Victim Services and Crime Prevention division of the provincial Ministry of Justice.

The are looking to use the funds to reach out to younger members of the community and encourage them to report harm experience or witnessed if they are unable or reluctant to report it directly to school officials or the police.

They hope they can break any misconceptions that Crime Stoppers operates as a ‘rat line’ rather an anonymous way for people to create a safer community.

The Comox Valley Crime Stoppers will have an information booth set up at the Comox Air Show on Aug.17 and will feature a break and enter map for the local area and offer Ident-A-Kid, a fingerprint and information sheet for parents to keep and give to police if ever their child goes missing or is abducted.

For more information on Comox Valley Crime Stoppers or to donate to the program, visit www.comoxvalleyCrimeStoppers.bc.ca.

 

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