Crime Stoppers: Catching criminals without the badge

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ANCHORAGE (KTUU) - Viewers hear it nearly every day: News anchors constantly telling the public to call Anchorage Crime Stoppers.

"Crime Stoppers is the only program of its kind that offers people an avenue to either call in or submit a tip online and remain anonymous," said Anita Shell, Anchorage Crime Stoppers Coordinator.

The program was started 40 years ago in Albuquerque, New Mexico, after a police officer discovered two big reasons why people weren't calling in tips.

Shell said one of those reasons was a lack of concern from people in general.

"If it doesn't happen to me, if it didn't involve me, why should I become involved?" she said.

The second reason why people were hesitant to call in tips for local crimes, Shell said, was retaliation.

For example, "I don't want to become involved because I don't want somebody to come back, and retaliate on me and hurt me, kill me, kill my family," Shell said.

The way Crime Stoppers works, along with accepting crime tips, are cash rewards, if the tip leads to an arrest.

The Crime Stoppers Board of Directors determines a reward amount. According to Shell, rewards range from $100 to $1000, with the latter being the maximum amount, often reserved for major crimes such as murder.

Rick McCrorie, Crime Stoppers Board President, said rewards are given almost every month and often, it isn't about the money.

"There is really a large number of tipsters that aren't interested in the reward," he said.

Anchorage joined the national Crime Stoppers program in 1981. Since then, it's gone global, in countries such as Australia, Africa and Mexico.

"It's been there for 30 plus years, helping people solve crime and keeping the community stay safe," Shell said.