Crime Stoppers has been an invaluable resource for law enforcement agencies while also rewarding people who have information of a criminal offense with a payout. But what happens when you call in a tip?
It starts with a phone call. Answering those is how Rockford Area Crime Stoppers coordinator Jeff Stovall spends most of his day.
“We are here to help the community,” he said.
Stovall holds a part-time position. Every day, he updates the Crime Stoppers bulletin with wanted suspects in the Rockford area, working hand-in-hand with law enforcement.
“Everything is anonymous and [a caller] will provide information to us regarding a criminal activity, or someone wanted on a warrant,” he said.
On average, the tip line receives 1,000 calls per year, with 325 of those resulting in legitimate arrests. About 40 percent of cases are solved with information provided by callers. A call that leads to an arrest can result in a cash reward of up to $1,000.
“We will evaluate the information and then send it to the law enforcement agency that will follow up on that information,” Stovall said.
In January of this year, police took a man into custody after he drove off with a security guard’s vehicle after dragging the guard — and a bystander who tried to help — at the K-Mart on Sandy Hollow Road.
A call to Crime Stoppers helped solve the case.
“We received many calls on that particular case, and as a result of the tips that came in, we determined who the suspect was,” Stovall said.
The organization relies solely on public donations. Later this month, Winnebago County Board members will roll out a new push to seek donations to continue operations and pay out rewards to those with information that leads to an arrest.
“We are not part of any tax-based payroll and we have to go by just strictly donations,” Stovall said.
Students who have information regarding criminal activity around their schools can contact school counselors, school police officers, or call CrimeStoppers directly as well.
If their information leads to an arrest, the suspension, or expulsion of an offender, they are eligible for a cash reward up to $50.