The numbers add up to a safer city.
As a result of tips to Toronto Crime Stoppers since the program was launched three decades ago, police have fielded nearly 107,000 tips that have led to over 10,000 arrests, recovered close to $63 million in stolen property, seized approximately $300 million in illegal drugs and removed numerous handguns and other weapons.
Just days after S/Insp. Mike Earl of the Hold Up Squad announced last month they were on the hunt for 12 bank robbers dubbed “The Dirty Dozen”, tips led to two arrests.
“As a result of Crime Stoppers, that group has now being reduced to “The Terrible Ten”, Toronto Crime Stoppers Board Chair Gary Grant said at the annual Crime Stoppers Month kick-off on Jan. 7 at Toronto Police headquarters.
The Toronto Crime Stoppers program was launched in 1984, after then-Chief Jack Marks asked now-retired Staff Superintendent Gary Grant – who was a sergeant at the time – to start the initiative.
Last year, the program received 8,096 tips that resulted in 132 arrests and 473 charges.
In my own very recent experience just before Christmas, my drug team was able to successfully deal with a chronic neighbourhood drug issue due to the information contained in a Crime Stoppers tip. This is just one recent example of how the program succeeds every day
In addition to the tips and charges, Crime Stoppers unveiled several programs last year, including a retail theft campaign developed by Crime Stoppers Vice-Chair Sean Sportun and Tattle Tails, which is the brainchild of Service member Catherine Grant, an animal lover and the daughter of Gary Grant.
The retail theft campaign is aimed at curbing organized retail theft estimated to be a $4 billion industry while Tattle Tails was created to deter animal cruelty.
“Tattle Tails has been a runaway success judging by its Facebook page,” Grant said.
Last month, police arrested the owner of a German Shepherd which was confined to an unheated shed with no water.
“Police attended because of a Crime Stoppers tip,” Grant said. “After seeing the conditions in which the dog was housed, they gave the owner a few days to clean it up. He promised to do so. A few days later when they came back, the conditions were worse than ever.”
The owner was charged with animal cruelty and the dog is up for adoption.
Anyone providing an animal cruelty tip is eligible for a $2,000 cash reward.
Deputy Chief Mark Saunders thanked the public for providing tips and the people directly involved in the Crime Stoppers program.
“You are the gas in the engine that makes this run as smooth as it has over the years,” he said.
Toronto Police Services Board Chair Alok Mukherjee said the program is a tremendous example of what can be achieved through a successful partnership between the police and the community.
“Today, Toronto faces a number of challenges and it’s more important than ever for the police and the public to work together to combat and reduce crime,” he said. “Our Board is very proud of the Toronto Crime Stoppers program. Through it, the public plays an integral role in keeping our neighbourhoods safe and providing our police service with an enormous volume of beneficial tips.”
The new Toronto Police Crime Stoppers program coordinator was introduced at the launch.
Det. Chris Scherk, who has worked in drug enforcement, major crime and community response positions over his career, replaces Sgt. Darlene Ross, who is now assigned to 13 Division.
“I am a big believer in the Crime Stoppers program because I have been on the investigative side of it and I am aware how well the program can work,” he said. “In my own very recent experience just before Christmas, my drug team was able to successfully deal with a chronic neighbourhood drug issue due to the information contained in a Crime Stoppers tip. This is just one recent example of how the program succeeds every day.
“The program works, but it depends on the public providing us with tips and our best way of communicating with the public is through the media… I am excited about taking over this program.”
Crime Stoppers is the brainchild of Canadian-born Greg MacAleese, who was an officer with the Albuquerque Police Department in New Mexico. After running out of leads in a homicide investigation, the frustrated cop turned to the public for assistance in 1976.
He produced the first crime re-enactment that was aired on local television and made available to other media outlets and promised that anyone providing information leading to an arrest would be eligible for a cash reward.
Within hours of the broadcast, police received a tip that led to the arrest of two suspects who were charged with murder. They were sentenced to life terms with no chance of parole.
Toronto, which implemented the initiative in 1984, has one of the largest programs in the world. There are close to 1,300 Crime Stoppers programs in nearly 20 countries.
Anyone with information about a crime that has occurred or is about to occur can contact Crime Stoppers anonymously at 416-222-TIPS (8477), online at www.222tips.com, text TOR and your message to CRIMES (274637) or Leave A Tip on Facebook.