CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa - The Linn County Crime Stoppers have received an increased volume of tip calls recently, according to Sgt. Cristy Hamblin with the Cedar Rapids Police Department. Hamblin said that’s partly due to recent bank robberies and cases of shots fired in the area.
In 2013, Linn County Crime Stoppers got 144 tip calls and texts. 10 of those led to arrests, and 18 were awarded payouts. In just the first four months of 2014, Crime Stoppers has also received 70 tips, and 3 of those led to arrests, with 5 payouts awarded. Even though most of the tips received by Crime Stoppers go nowhere, Hamblin said the program is working.
“We would rather follow up on 10 useless or pointless leads, rather than no leads at all,” Hamblin explained.
She nderstands there’s apprehension about calling police with a tip, but wants to remind people that the system is built to preserve anonymity. The phone calls are not recorded, and text tips are encoded.
“You’re not being a snitch, you’re being a responsible citizen. I understand people are afraid, but you have to report it. If you’re not reporting it, you’re part of the problem.”
The program decides on payout amounts based on the severity of a crime, ranging from $50 to hundreds.
“Obviously if it’s a shoplifter, it’s not going to get as much money as a serious assault,” said Hamblin, adding that the money paid out is gained through private donations. Anyone can be eligible for a reward, even if a tip doesn’t lead to an arrest. For instance, calling in a tip about drugs in a school locker.
“The officer or the administrator goes and finds that bag of dope in the locker, they’re eligible for a $50 reward, even though no arrest is made,” Hamblin told us.
As for the cash payouts, Hamblin said those can also be done with complete anonymity.
“There are times I have taken a reward, put it in a brown paper bag, took it to a park, put it in a garbage can, and I had to walk away from that money.”
You can call the Linn Co. Crime Stoppers at 1-800-CS-CRIME, or text your information to the number 274637, with the number 5227 in the subject line.