Larry Murray can't get too specific, but he knows of several occasions where an anonymous tip to Sea to Sky Crime Stoppers has led to an arrest, or provided crucial information to an ongoing RCMP investigation.
Since January of 2010, they have passed on 130 tips to the police - over 95 per cent of which are genuine, Murray says. And that's with a volunteer board, sporadic sponsorship and no public funding.
"Although we've been in the corridor for 20 years, we've realized that we need to let people know who we are in a more forthright way, and do a little marketing and PR," said Murray, who has been the chair of Sea to Sky Crime Stoppers for seven years.
Crime Stoppers is seeking more sponsors to help publish fliers and fund the Sea to Sky chapter's growing costs. His group will also look for regular public funding for the first time.
"We are the only Crime Stoppers board that is self-funding in the province," said Murray. "All other jurisdictions or municipalities participate. It's been a source of pride to us to be self-funding and independent in that way, but now we're at a point where we're saying that times are getting tougher and we have to be realistic."
Murray says he is in contact with local mayors and the SLRD for regular funding.
It won't be expensive - Sea to Sky Crime Stoppers' annual budget is currently around $2,000, although that number is growing.
Most local governments fund Crime Stoppers between $2,000 and $25,000 annually, depending on the population covered by the local Crime Stoppers chapter.
Crime Stoppers is a non-profit concept where people can anonymously leave tips, which volunteers then share with the police. No identities or records are kept, even when a reward is offered, and anonymity is retained every step of the way. Even courts cannot subpoena someone giving a tip, with special status for the organization in the courts.
As the logo says, "We don't want your name, just your information."
Crime Stoppers accepts tips by phone, e-mail, website and text. The organization allows the tipster to follow-up in 60 days via an anonymous PIN number system. It's important, says Murray, that everyone knows what the outcome is for any given tip.
"Only a few tips, maybe one or two per cent, are stupid, or frivolous or vindictive," said Murray. "Ninety-five per cent are solid tips from citizens who want to get information to the police."
In all situations, and especially during emergencies, Crime Stoppers will always advise going directly to the police. However, he says they do get reports of crimes in progress, which they share with the police as soon as they can.
Murray says that's not always an option for people.
"Some people are afraid if they get involved there might be some kind of retribution, or they don't know if the tip is really solid, 'but it's eating away at me if I don't choose to share it,'" explained Murray. Crime Stoppers doesn't ask people what their reasons are for being anonymous.
A look at the calls this year also suggests that tips are coming in on every type of crime, from missing persons to drugs, arson to property theft.
The group is listed as a charitable organization, and frequently approaches businesses and community organizations to fund items like fliers and posters, which seem to go missing. Murray wants to form closer ties with the media and local governments in the future to get the word out to the public.
To keep its certification with the national organization, Murray says they must meet a set of criteria and have trained staff to receive and share tips. As well, Crime Stoppers works with police on specific campaigns - such as the recent high profile call to end human trafficking in Canada.
Murray says Crime Stoppers is working, and that crime statistics drop when a jurisdiction adopts a Crime Stoppers program. Since the first program started in 1985, Crime Stoppers has contributed information that has led to 822,000 arrests and the recovery of $9 billion in stolen property and drugs. In Canada, more than 166,000 arrests have been made, and almost $3 billion in stolen property and drugs seized.
Crime Stoppers can be found in every region of the U.S. and Canada, and is now in France and Australia.
If you have a tip to report, you can call 1-800-222-TIPS (8477) or visit www.bccrimestoppers.com. You can text BCTIP and message CRIMES (274637).
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