News

Crime Stoppers tips lead to more than 400 arrests

Alex Sangster, left, of Vancouver Island University’s drama department, threatens fellow actor Brian Marsh of Yellow Point Drama Group on Thursday during the filming of a Crime Stoppers re-enactment of an unsolved break-in at a home on Meredith Road. - CHRIS BUSH/The News Bulletin
Alex Sangster, left, of Vancouver Island University’s drama department, threatens fellow actor Brian Marsh of Yellow Point Drama Group on Thursday during the filming of a Crime Stoppers re-enactment of an unsolved break-in at a home on Meredith Road.
— image credit: CHRIS BUSH/The News Bulletin

When crime goes unsolved, one of the sources police turn to for leads that could solve a case is Nanaimo and District Crime Stoppers.

January is Crime Stoppers month, when volunteers and the people who have called in tips get a nod of appreciation from local Mounties, even if many of those connected with the program can’t be publicly recognized.

Even annual statistics about what crimes were solved through the program aren’t discussed to protect those who might have placed themselves at risk by picking up the phone or passing information along online.

“We never want to go back and say a case was solved directly because of Crime Stoppers,” said Const. Gary O’Brien, Nanaimo RCMP spokesman. “All we can say is Crime Stoppers assisted in a number of investigations and is one of many tools used. It all goes back to the anonymity of the tipster. It’s like a silent success we have with them. We just can’t speak to specific cases.”

Since guaranteed anonymity for tipsters is key to the program, little can be discussed about Crime Stoppers’ success other than through the statistics generated from the ongoing fight against crime that can be attributed to Crime Stoppers operations. Since 1990, Nanaimo and District Crime Stoppers has approved $93,000 in awards and received 5,251 tips leading to 472 arrests. The program’s efforts have led to $1 million in weapons seizures, $1.2 million in stolen property recovered and have helped take almost $9 million in illicit drugs off the streets.

Crime Stoppers gets no government funding and relies solely on fundraising and private donations. Success of Nanaimo’s program also depends on community support. In recent years, Crime Stoppers has been implemented in all local high schools.

Local media outlets also partner with police and Crime Stoppers to help ensure success of the Nanaimo program, which has won 10 provincial awards since 2010.

Shaw TV, which has filmed 18 award-winning Crime Stoppers crime re-enactments, was at work Thursday recreating an unsolved burglary from December when a husband and wife woke up in the night to find a man in their home who pulled a knife on the husband when he was confronted.

The couple and culprit are played by local actors from Yellow Point Drama Group and Vancouver Island University’s drama program. When broadcasted, the re-enactment will hopefully jog memories and prompt someone to come forward with information.

Tipsters often do not collect on rewards – even though tipsters never have to identify themselves or testify in court – simply because they want to make a difference in their community and stand up against crime in their neighbourhoods, O’Brien said.

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