It’s a partnership in crime fighting that has been working in the Central Okanagan for more than three decades.
And during that time the program has taken a huge bite out of crime, taking more than $88.4 million in drugs off the street and recovering $4.3 million in stolen property.
The Central Okanagan Crime Stoppers organization hosted a luncheon Wednesday to celebrate its past success and national Crime Stoppers Month, recognized each January across the country as Crime Stoppers Month.
In Kelowna, the month was marked with a proclamation from Mayor Colin Basran.
This year marks the 31st year Crime Stoppers has been working with residents, the RCMP and local media to fight crime across the region.
Central Okanagan Crime Stoppers president Timothy Lynch said in addition to the information provided to police to help solve crimes, he feels the biggest contribution the program makes is empowering citizens to be able to do something when it comes to crime-fighting in their communities.
“There’s an awareness now by people that they can do something,” he said, citing the anonymity of the tips line, be it via telephone, text or the internet.
Kelowna’s top cop, Supt. Brent Mundle, who was at the Crime Stoppers luncheon, said the organization is an important one for his officers because it not only provides information about crimes that have occurred but, in many cases, also helps with valuable intelligence to help head off future crimes.
“It’s a tool we use everyday,” said Mundle.
He said while violent crime in the Central Okanagan going down, property crime—particularly theft from vehicles, is continuing to increase.
“And that is something that’s totally avoidable,” he said.
If drivers did not leave valuables in their vehicles in plain sight, or locked them in the trunk, Mundle said there would be a sharp drop in the number of thefts from vehicles.
“It’s totally a crime of opportunity,” he said.
Related: Kelowna’s unsolved crimes of the week
In the 31 years since the program started in the Central Okanagan, 906 rewards have been approved worth over $305,000. However only 422 tipsters have actually claimed their cash.
Crime Stoppers tipsters receive complete anonymity for information and tips that help RCMP close cases by making arrests and charging criminals. It’s part of what makes the program successful, said the organization, which first began as an idea back in the mid 1980s.
A Crime Stoppers push first came from Kelowna city council in 1985. By 1987 it was established within the City of Kelowna boundary and in 1988, the Regional District of Central Okanagan was approached by a group of citizens and the Crime Stoppers program we know today was established.
Since inception, Central Okanagan Crime Stoppers has racked up other impressive numbers:
Tips received: 25,715
Arrests made: 2,760
Fugitives arrested: 978
Cases cleared: 3,737
Charges laid: 664
Weapons seized: 42
The Crime Stoppers program works in collaboration with the RCMP, local citizens, media and a volunteer Board of Directors (Crime Stoppers Society) to help stop, solve and prevent crime.
Central Okanagan Crime Stoppers promotes a number of programs that can be viewed on our website at www.crimestoppers.net.