UNION COUNTY —The Union County CrimeStoppers program is asking the public for donations to help it continue to reward citizens who anonymously provide information that enables law enforcement to apprehend criminals and stop crime.
The program recently issued a request for donations with a flier that states that “CrimeStoppers once again needs your help. This community is tired of crime & violence in our town and county and as this program continues to grow, the number of tips increase as do the amount of money needed to fund this much needed program.”
The flier also features statistics about what the program accomplished in 2012. During the year, the program received 296 tips which resulted in:
• 106 arrests made
• 80 fugitives captured
• $4,900 in stolen property recovered
• $1,225 worth of drugs seized
The flier states that 54 rewards totaling $4,100 were paid out in 2012.
The program experienced similar success in 2011 as Union County David Taylor pointed out in 2012 when accepting a $500 donation from the Union Rotary Club. Taylor told the Rotarians that in 2011, CrimeStoppers received 283 tips which resulted in:
• 66 arrests made
• 115 warrants served
• $17,000 in stolen property recovered
• $1,000 worth of illicit items seized
Taylor said that the program paid out 61 reward checks totaling $3,925 in 2011.
Chief Deputy Perry Haney said this week that the success the program has experienced in recent years is due to efforts by the sheriff’s office to publicize it and to reassure the public of the anonymity of CrimeStoppers.
“It was actually ongoing when Sheriff Taylor was elected, but they would go months without getting a tip,” Haney said. “We saw its potential and we upgraded it by putting it on our website (www.unionscsheriff.com) and we’re also on Facebook. The website has a link to our CrimeStoppers Facebook page.”
Haney said the key to the success of the program is anonymity, and to assure the public that they will remain anonymous if they call the number (427-0800) they use to contact CrimeStoppers it has been rerouted to Columbia.
“That number used to be a local number that went directly to 911 here in the county,” Haney said. “I think that’s why so few people used it because they were afraid if they called their voice might be recognized.
“Now when you call it goes directly to the SLED Fusion Center in Columbia,” he said. “There’s a SLED agent that’s over that program and they man it 24/7.”
Haney said the caller can then give the information they have and are in turn given the means of getting a reward if the information they provide results in an arrest and/or the solving of a crime.
“If you have information on a crime or a wanted person you call that number and you never give your name to the person who answers,” Haney said. “You just tell them the information you’ve got and they give you a CrimeStoppers number which will include the year, a dash and a four-digit number which you keep.”
Haney said the information provided by the caller is then emailed to the sheriff’s office for investigation. If it results in an arrest and/or the solving of a crime, the CrimeStoppers board — of which Haney is a member — will then determine the amount of the reward to be paid out.
“The board meets the first week of every month and I’ll report to the board about the tips that result in an arrest,” Haney said. “The amount of the rewards are from $50 to $1,000. The board votes on the amount and then the treasurer cuts a check made out to the number the person who provided the tip was given.”
Haney said the person who provided the information can then go to the bank, present the teller with the number they were given when they called and be given the check which they endorse with the number and are given their money. He said at no time does the person have to give their name.
No attempt is made to contact the person who provided the information. Instead, Haney said they will call CrimeStoppers to inquire whether or not they’ve gotten a reward. They will then be directed to call him and he lets them know if they have and to go get their money if they’ve been given a reward.
As for the program’s call for more public donations, Haney said CrimeStoppers is worthy of public support.
“It helps the community,” Haney said. “It helps us arrest people that we would have had a hard time locating. It helps us stop crime or at least slow it down.”
Donations to CrimeStoppers should be sent to UC CrimeStoppers, 135 W. Main St., Union, S.C. 29379. They can also be sent to the Union County Sheriff’s Office, P.O. Box 971, Union, S.C. 29379. All checks should be made payable to Union County CrimeStoppers.
Haney added that all donations are used for the rewards and for a few promotional expenses for the program. He and his fellow board members are volunteers.
If you have information about a crime call CrimeStoppers at 864-427-0800.
Editor Charles Warner can be reached at 864-427-1234, ext. 14, or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.