A Scottsdale, Az., company is offering $10,000 to anyone who uses its Web site, www.theanonymousemail .com, to send a tip that leads to the arrest and conviction of Phoenix’ “Baseline Killer,” reports the Arizona Republic. Yet most crime-fighting tip lines prefer taking their tips via telephone. The Baseline Killer is a serial killer, rapist, and robber who began his rampage in Phoenix a year ago this month. He may be responsible for as many as eight killings, 11 sexual assaults and 22 robberies.
Among reasons for favoring phone tips: Police can’t be sure who its e-mail tipsters are, and doesn’t want to jeopardize a tipster’s trust by replying and communicating on a computer that others might share. Also, telephone operators are trained to extract specific information from callers during conversations. E-mail tipsters may not realize which details are important and which are not. Kevin Anderson, owner of Anderson Software of Nacogdoches, Texas, last year added a Web-tip feature to its tip-management software for law enforcement agencies. Two police-tip programs in Florida that installed his system have already seen the number of Web tips surpass the number of telephone tips, Anderson said. “There is a huge segment of the population that doesn’t want to be interrogated on the phone but will give a tip on the Web,” he said.