To gas prices, foreclosure rates and the cost of rice, add this rising economic indicator: the number of tips to the police from people hoping to collect reward money. Calls to the Southwest Florida Crime Stoppers hot line in the first quarter of this year were up 30 percent over last year, reports the New York Times. San Antonio had a 44 percent increase. Cities and towns from Detroit to Omaha to Beaufort County, N.C., all report increases of 25 percent or more in the first quarter, with tipsters telling operators they need the money for rent, light bills or baby formula.
Elaine Cloyd, the president of Crime Stoppers U.S.A., said that not all of the 323 programs in the country had reported an increase in calls, and that some, like those in Lafayette, La., and Broward County, Fla., attributed most of their spike to increased publicity or technological improvements like accepting tips by text message. But there was no doubt, Cloyd said, that the faltering economy was a significant factor. “When the economy gets rough, people have to be creative,” she said. “They might give a tip where they wouldn't have in the past.”