A McPherson County Crime Stoppers tip led to law enforcement finding those responsible for damaging 33 headstones and the fence at a cemetery in Inman.
"We advertised that on Crime Stoppers and we got tips and we solved it," said Capt. Doug Anderson of the McPherson County Sheriff's Office.
An anonymous informant also helped McPherson law enforcement solve a recent burglary at CK Pharmacies.
"They went and discovered other evidence that was linked to that tip," explained Detective Stacy Snyder of the McPherson Police Department.
Over the past 30 years, 338 criminal cases have been cleared in McPherson County — and many others in neighboring counties — with the assistance of Crime Stoppers tips.
"Crime Stoppers started in 1979 in Albuquerque, New Mexico. There was a detective down there who was trying to solve a homicide and they got together some funds for a reward," Anderson said.
That effort was successful and soon other law enforcement agencies began using the program as a way for individuals to anonymously report information about criminal activity.
"We see that a lot of people don't want to get involved to the extent of going to court and putting their face out there," Snyder said.
Since McPherson County joined the program in 1986, Crime Stoppers tips led to 413 people facing criminal charges and accounted for nearly $400,000 in property recovered, drugs seized or expected court-ordered restitution.
"It works really well, especially now since there is Facebook," Snyder said. "Very rarely do you have someone who commits a crime and keeps it to themselves. They want to brag about it."
McPherson County Crime Stoppers has received 67 tips this year.
“We get them on burglary, drug activity and meth labs,” Anderson said.
Many of the tips give the location of a wanted fugitive. Other tips lead to investigations into homicides, vandalism, arson, auto thefts or underage sales of liquor.
“Prior knowledge of a party that’s going to happen would be a good tip to call in to Crime Stoppers,” Snyder said.
Crime Stoppers tips can be reported via phone call, text or using the TipSoft website by individuals of any age.
When people call the Crime Stoppers phone number, they talk to McPherson County Communications dispatchers, who will not ask for any identifying information.
“We don’t want to know who they are — they’re to remain anonymous,” Anderson said. “They are given a number. That becomes their name, as far as we’re concerned.”
Nearly a third of the Crime Stoppers tips received have been sent via text or email, which allows tipsters to send photographs as well.
“We never see your phone number. We don’t know who you are,” Anderson explained. “It goes through a program called TipSoft and your number and your name — we never see it.”
All Crime Stoppers tips are immediately emailed to Anderson and Snyder.
“If it’s something that needs handling right away, then we’ll let the on-duty staff know about it,” Anderson said.
Snyder noted that warrants cannot be obtained solely based on a Crime Stoppers tip.
“It provides that initial opportunity for the detectives to go out and come up with something else to validate that tip,” Snyder said. “The program is designed to get tips from the community so we can further investigations or begin investigations.”
Tipsters are given a cash reward for information that leads to a case being solved.
“We can pay up to $1,000,” Anderson said. “We’ve got two tips that we need to pay off on. Numbers 1584 and 1597.”
The amount of the reward is determined by the McPherson County Crime Stoppers board and is based on the number and nature of the crimes it helps solve. Anderson said the minimum reward that has been paid is $50.
“It depends on the funding that is available, and we’re getting low,” Anderson said. “If this program is going to continue, we’re going to need some help from the community.”
The money for the rewards is supplied solely by donations to McPherson County Crime Stoppers.
“We’re in dire need of local support,” Snyder said.
To report a crime to Crime Stoppers, call 800-241-8118 or 620-241-1122. You can also or leave a tip online at https://www.tipsubmit.com/WebTips.aspx?AgencyID=265 or text McPherson County Crime Stoppers at 274637.
Donations to Crime Stoppers are tax deductible and can be mailed to McPherson County Crime Stoppers, Inc., PO Box 25, McPherson, KS 67460. If you are interested in joining the McPherson County Crime Stoppers board, contact Capt. Doug Anderson at 620-245-1225.
Contact Patricia Middleton by email at firstname.lastname@example.org