When a crime happens and leads go dry police look to the public for help. One of the best motivations to get people to help is money.
However, not all crime tip rewards are created equal.
Some rewards come from groups or non-profit organizations that are closely linked to the crime; like businesses that have been robbed or family of the victim. The amount of the reward can vary and so does the criteria for receiving it.
Then there are national non-profits like “Crime Stoppers,” which has regional chapters. Sacramento’s chapter is called “Crime Alert” and is run by retired Sacramento Police Sgt. Marty Mamuyac. He said their rewards are pretty straight forward.
“All we’re looking for is an arrest. If we can prove (the tip lead to) an arrest or solved the case, as per the detectives, you’re eligible for a reward,” Mamuyac said.
The minimum reward amount is about $100; the maximum is $1000. The money comes from fundraising and the occasional private donation.
Mamuyac added the thousand dollars is only for the most heinous crimes.
While not everyone will get top-dollar the money is a valuable tool that does get a response.
The Crime Alert website shows there are a few success stories each month.
Mamuyac said there is a lot of work to make those success stories happen; this calendar year Crime Alert has gotten about 1,200 tips. Out of all those tips, Mamuyac said about seven turn out to be worthwhile.
From the time Crime Alert started 32 years ago, over 2,600 arrests have happened and over $375,000 in reward money has been paid. But in the last three years, Mamuyac said there’s been an interesting trend when it comes to tipsters claiming reward money.
“To date this year we’ve authorized about $8,000 in rewards; less than half of that has been picked up,” Mamuyac said.
Here’s how that can happen – because tipsters can be anonymous Crime Alert has no way of contacting them to let them know their tip was successful.
“No caller ID and they don`t tape anything,” said Mamuyac, “Automatically erases your cell-phone number so we never know who you are. We never know your email address.”
So how do tipsters get paid? At the time they give their tip, they get a tip number and a code name. After that it becomes their responsibility to check back and see if the tip led to an arrest. Once it’s confirmed they’re sent to a financial institution to pick up the money.
It can be time consuming, but that’s the price of anonymity. While the process may not be perfect; it does work.
“I know when you get a good tip, for example on a homicide, you save a lot of man hours,” said Mamuyac, “As a result, (officers) can vest their time in other crimes and make our city a safer place to live.”
Crime Alert has one major fundraiser to get money for rewards, a crab feed that will be taking place on February 1, 2014.
For more information about Crime Alert, cases that need help, suspects on the loose, or to donate – visit their website www.crimealert.org