Tech Loss Contributes to Tip Decline, Crime Stoppers Hopes New Website Will Help Turn the Tide

By Jeremy Coumbes on January 3, 2024 at 10:35am

The loss of some technology led to a drop in Crime Stopper tips in 2023, but officials say it was still a good year despite the loss.

Crime Stoppers of Morgan, Scott, and Cass Counties released the 2023 year-end stats Tuesday. Crime Stoppers Coordinator Loren Hamilton says overall the solved cases were up one to 10 in 2023 compared to 2022, even though the amount of tips received decreased considerably.

It was a disappointing year, but we know why. We had worked most of the year without our website and without the cellphone app. And no reason, or excuse, it’s just that both companies that we used for the website and the cellphone app both went out of business.

So we started the search to replace those. The new website should be up and active by the end of the month. The cellphone app I’m not real sure. Most of the cellphone apps that we have looked at are way way out of our budget. So hopefully we will be able to bring that back as well but I can’t give you an answer on that as of yet.”

in 2023, Crime Stoppers received 225 tips, which is down 264 from 2022. Arrests made were down seven from the previous year, however, Hamilton says even though the tips were down, those that came in were very high quality as far as valuable information.

In total, 35 arrests were made and $10,800 in property was recovered due to anonymous tips submitted to Crime Stoppers, who paid out $4,275.00 in rewards.

He says the lack of a mobile phone app hurt the total numbers in the back half of the year. “That was probably the most disappointing one. Obviously, when we lost the website we lost another avenue where we collect tips from. But the majority we missed I think came from the cell phone apps because when we first contracted that- and it was through a grant that allowed us to do that, our target audience was young people, and I think that is what fell off.”

Hamilton says Crime Stoppers has tried to stay current with new technology such as the phone app and the current social media platforms as the only avenue for tips when he first started was the landline phone.

He says budgetary constraints have played a role in hampering being able to find a new mobile app, and if anyone has information that could help the local Crime Stoppers in that search, please call him at the Jacksonville Police Department.

Hamilton says another area they are still struggling in is with having enough members on the board. “The other thing that we tried to do is diversify our board geographically in the counties that we serve. Right now in some of the outlying communities, we’re lacking volunteers to serve on our board. Specifically speaking in Beardstown, Winchester, and Meredosia. So if there is someone in your audience that lives or works in one of those communities and would be interested in serving on the board please contact me.”

Hamilton says if anyone is interested in serving on the board, or thinks they could be of help in finding a suitable mobile application, to contact him at the Jacksonville Police Department by calling 217-479-4630.

Since its inception in 1985, Crime Stoppers of Morgan, Scott, and Cass Counties has received nearly 6,000 tips leading to 849 cases being solved with 2,322 arrests being made. To date, Crime Stoppers has recovered nearly $969,000.00 worth of property and paid out just over $142,000.00 in cash rewards.

Hamilton says that anyone with information on any crime in the three-county area can submit a tip anonymously through the Morgan, Scott, Cass Crime Stoppers Facebook page, or by calling 217-243-7300.