Aug. 21, 2008 — Crime Stoppers USVI is giving out up to $2,500 in cash on St. Croix to people offering useful tips on criminal acts.
At the weekly meeting Thursday of the Rotary Club of St. Croix at Gertrude's Restaurant, Alan Brown and Judi Fricks spoke about the recently formed Crime Stoppers USVI organization.
Brown said Crime Stoppers is a worldwide organization with volunteers who take calls from people with information on crimes but who wish to remain anonymous. By calling the tip line, citizens may assist in getting criminals arrested without having to identify themselves or testify in court. Brown stressed the group is looking for tips leading to arrests and not convictions.
"If a tip leads to an arrest, recovery of property or a case cleared, we pay cash rewards," Brown said. "The amount of the reward depends on how serious the crime is."
Funding for the rewards and operations of the organization is provided by tax-deductible donations and membership dues from citizens, businesses and local service groups. The membership fee is $50 for an individual and $150 for businesses. Brown said Fricks has secured a corporate sponsor at $10,000.
Crime Stoppers cooperates with the V.I. Police Department, though it is a separate group.
"The police department has embraced this program," Brown said. "The governor is excited about the program too and behind us 100 percent."
The VIPD will provide the public with information on a crime of the week that may well be solved with more information.
"Our success depends on collaboration with the police department," Brown said.
Fricks said in the fall an 800 number would be up and running for people to report crime tips and get updates on the crimes. This will be a private secure number managed by Crime Stoppers. The call, which cannot be traced or recorded, will be connected to a trained representative. Callers are asked not to give their name or identify themselves. Callers are given a personal identification number (PIN) used to identify them when calling back for an update.
"If there isn't a follow-up on a tip we want to know who screwed up," Fricks said.
Brown told the Rotarians callers could call back as often as they want to check on progress. When one hears their tip was successful in helping to solve a crime, a secure location with total anonymity is set up for Crime Stoppers to deliver the cash reward.
Crime Stoppers was organized in 1976 in New Mexico and currently has 1,200 chapters worldwide.
"Crime statistics are lower in areas with Crime Stoppers," Fricks said.
Brown said they are looking for volunteers to man the safe and secure office in Frederiksted. A background check is done and training sessions are given to perspective volunteers. They have 23 volunteers territory-wide and plans for a board to be made up of 13 people.
"Promotions are in place for a membership drive and to get information out, which will be made in a public announcement soon." Fricks said.
For more information call 244-5699.
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