January is National Crime Stoppers Month when organizers in Nanaimo reflect on successes of the previous year and prepare for program advancements expected in 2018.
Throughout 2017, Nanaimo and District Crime Stoppers noted a number of successes that included receiving an international award at the 38th annual Crime Stoppers International Conference in Panama for a multilingual joint pilot project with Vancouver Island University and CHLY Radio.
VIU also adopted campus security cameras and other Crime Stoppers programs to boost security and crime prevention awareness on its campuses.
Nanaimo Crime Stoppers tips were up too, thanks in part to online services added in 2016.
“Our tips are up about 10 per cent from last year,” said Const. Gary O’Brien, Nanaimo and District Crime Stoppers coordinator. “From across central Vancouver Island we received about 600 tips and what we’re seeing is a significant increase in people using web-based tips, so the tips are being submitted electronically. This is exactly what we wanted to see, because when the tips are submitted electronically, it allows us to have two-way e-mail contact with the tipster, so if the tip needs to be fleshed out more or the tipster wants to get an update on their tip, they can do it from the safety of their iPhone or laptop.”
O’Brien won’t say how many crimes Crime Stoppers tips have helped solve. It’s all part of ensuring anonymity and security for tipsters.
“Let’s just say that Crime Stoppers is used daily by law enforcement, not only in Nanaimo, but throughout the world and it’s one of the most successful partnerships they have,” he said. “We never talk about our successes. Our program keeps moving forward and we also know that it’s an integral tool used by law enforcement to help solve crime.”
Crime Stoppers, which started in Albuquerque, N.M. and relies solely on donations for its operating costs, pays financial rewards for tips that lead to arrests, but less than 30 per cent of rewards paid out are ever collected by the tipsters because, O’Brien said, people do it to make a difference and not for the money.
Nanaimo and District Crime Stoppers also has a new website where statistics on crime and listings of Vancouver Island’s current most wanted suspects are posted. Crime Stoppers is also looking at adopting a new online program for receiving and managing tips in the coming year.
This year Nanaimo program representatives will be attending the 2018 provincial Crime Stoppers conference in Victoria as well as Canada’s first national Crime Stoppers conference, which will be held in Hamilton.
“We have a very progressive, proactive board with a diversity of members. We continue to serve Nanaimo and our primary goal is to put bad guys in jail,” O’Brien said.