A program in the St. Louis suburb of St. Charles that helps police solve crimes through anonymous tips hasy surpassed the $1 million mark in recovered stolen merchandise and illicit drugs, says the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Backers call St. Charles Crime Stoppers a success because it focuses on what you know, not who you are. Many people fail to report crimes because they fear reprisals or because they don’t want to have to testify in court. Crime Stoppers allows tipsters to remain anonymous. Others are motivated by a cash reward. The program began in 1989 and is one of more than 1,200 such initiatives in 20 countries around the world, says crime Stoppers International. Tips to member organizations have an average conviction rate of 95 percent.
The St. Charles program is funded solely through donations from a once-a-year mail solicitation and an annual banquet that honors police officers, residents, and members of the media. St. Charles Detective Mark Ehrhard says that some tips come from criminals who may be calling out of revenge or to eliminate their competition. He believes the majority of tips come from what he calls fringe players, ex-girlfriends or other associates of criminals. Tips also come from parents, who may hear about criminal activity from their teenagers or adult children.