Crime Stoppers is not affiliated with the government. It is not a division of the police department. It is a non-profit agency with a volunteer board of directors that authorizes the payment of cash prizes of up to $1,000 for tips that contribute to the arrest of criminals in each of the five Lowcountry counties it serves.
Our sole purpose is to assist law enforcement, but the tipper never reveals himself and remains anonymous until the reward money is received.
A community watch, also known as a crime watch or neighborhood crime watch (see spelling differences), is an organized group of people dedicated to crime and vandalism prevention within a neighborhood.
The purpose of neighborhood watch is to inform community members about security and safety to build healthy and secure communities. However, when illegal activity is suspected, members are advised to report it to the authorities rather than interfere.
Neighborhood Watch in the United States is based on the Colonial American idea of a town watch.
Crime Stoppers was established in 1978 in Albuquerque, New Mexico, and in 1983 in the Charleston area. Guaranteed anonymity is a central component of Crime Stoppers. Witnesses who are not afraid of punishment or further intervention, and who may be paid financially, are highly important.
Anonymity cannot be guaranteed by law enforcement. When a person is convicted by the police on the basis of a single anonymous tip, the accused almost always has the right to know who the source was.
That’s why Crime Stoppers was founded: to enable people with information to come forward while preserving their privacy.
Crime Stoppers’ incentives are limited to $1,000 under the operational bylaws, based on factors such as the seriousness of the crime, the number of people convicted, and so on. Since we, like all non-profit organizations, rely on public donations, we have to set this relatively low cap.
However, more recently, and under very strict terms, Crime Stoppers has aided in the distribution of even larger incentives received on behalf of individual victims.
The friends and family of Matthew Renken and young Marley Lion, for example, have put up more than $10,000 in each case, which Crime Stoppers would add to the $1,000 reward if a tip leads to the arrest of the individuals responsible for either death.
If the call is made to the police, anonymity is not as easily secured, and the witness will have to be identified at some point. However, in the case of Crime Stoppers, this will never happen.
Whether it’s a call or text tip, an e-mail tip, or a tip sent via the Crime Stoppers website, we use proprietary technology that “sanitizes” all traceable details and ensures privacy.
Even when the tipster cashes the check, he or she does so anonymously thanks to our bank’s cooperation.
I hope that the next time you see Crime Stoppers mentioned in the news or on television, you will have a greater understanding of what we do and how we do it.