Crimestoppers of the Lowcountry. You’ve heard about it for years but exactly how does it work? How do they get the reward money and how do you get paid when you call in a tip?
Officer Harry Sosa is an officer with the Charleston Police Department. He is also the coordinator for Crimestoppers of the Lowcountry. “This is the best way for citizens to help out in their community and remain 100% anonymous.”
When law enforcement needs your help, they ask you to call Crimestoppers. “There is literally no way you can be tracked when you call Crimestoppers.
If you were to just call the police department, “you could be subpoenaed and could be requested to go to court. We remove that from this process.”
Crimestoppers scrubs incoming call data so that the caller ID will not even identify what number the call is coming from. So how do they get you your reward money if your tip leads to an arrest? “You would call. They get the information written down, they give you a number, so it becomes who you are. 12345 is what I always say. That is your number. Don’t share it because if anyone else knows it, they will get that money.”
In a few weeks, you call back to see if an arrest was made. If so, they tell you a business where you can pick up your cash reward.
Most rewards range from $100-$1000, depending on the case.
So where does Crimestoppers get their reward money from? On occasion, a government body like a county may make a small donation because it can help their law enforcement find criminals in the area. But more often, individuals or groups donate money to help fund the criminals. “If there’s a certain case that affects them for whatever reason, they will raise money and say, ‘hey I have $5000 for this particular case. Can you use it for this tip?’ and that’s what we do.”
Crimestoppers of the Lowcountry receives tips from 7 counties near the coast.
Since January of 2016, more than 1,000 calls, 500+ web tips and nearly 100 text tips were called in. At least 20 of those lead to an arrest where a little more than $18,000 has been paid in rewards.
“Last year the hit-and-run in Summerville that killed a man by, I think Walmart, he was arrested because of our tip”
Officer Sosa says some drug dealers will even call in a tip to get a competing drug dealer off the streets in their area. “It’s hard to find out who tells on you in your neighborhood when everybody knows your selling drugs in that neighborhood.”
As an investigator, Sosa says he was searching for a way to get leads, “I was always looking for that good tool, and this is the best tool that I have ever seen in the 20 years that I’ve been here. And it has that relationship with law-enforcement and with the community, that bridge that needs to be there.”
You can call Crimestoppers at 843-554-1111.
You can also log on to www.5541111.com.
Or start a new text message to CRIMES, or 274637. In the body of the message type “TipCSL” or “Tip213” and then a space before including the crime details you wish to send