More people are contacting Crime Stoppers with tips, officials say, and more of those tips are leading to the capture of suspects linked to serious crimes.
The latest example came just a few days ago, when a call to the anonymous tip line led to the arrest Sunday of the fifth and final suspect in the shooting death of Markez Phillips, 19, in Oaklawn last month.
A fuller reflection of the recent surge can be found in the rewards approved by the Crime Stoppers board of directors over the past two months, Detective Loren Johnson said. The nonprofit organization offers rewards for tips leading to arrests resulting in convictions. The amount varies, depending on the nature of the crime.
Fourteen payouts were authorized in November and 16 in December. Those are remarkably high numbers for the organization, Johnson said.
“We’re getting really good tips – tips that are able to be followed up on,” Johnson said.
The overall number of tips being called, e-mailed or texted to the organization is up as well.
“Over the last 18 months, the number of tips monthly have been going up – significantly,” said Gordon Bassham, executive director of the Wichita Crime Commission, which absorbed Crime Stoppers in a restructuring last year.
Though people can now send tips electronically, Johnson said, the vast majority of tips still come in by phone.
Tipsters seem to prefer calls, he said, because “you’re talking with a real person.”
The texting option only allows about 80 words, which may not be enough room to provide context for the tip, Johnson said.
A majority of the tips are split between reported drug activity or the location of people wanted on outstanding warrants, Johnson said.
“I think people are trying to clean up their own neighborhood or just be better citizens,” he said.
In most cases, it’s not for the reward money, Johnson said. Out of the 17 cases deemed eligible for payouts last month, he said, only three people have called to inquire about how to receive their rewards.
When authorities contacted the others, they declined the money, using words such as “I’m just trying to be a good citizen,” Johnson said.