Record year for crime tips

The number of tips and phone calls received and the level of engagement on social media were all up in 2014

Campbell River Crime Stoppers is celebrating its most successful year in its history thanks to the use of social media.

Pat Patterson, the coordinator and only paid member of Crime Stoppers, told the Strathcona Regional District that the number of tips and phone calls received and the level of engagement on platforms such as Facebook and Twitter were all up in 2014.

“I stood here last year and said that in 2013 Campbell River Crime Stoppers had their best year in their 24-year history,” Patterson said during a presentation to the regional district board at its Jan. 7 meeting. “I’m going to stand here now and tell you that 2014 is our best year in our history. We’ve blown the stats out of the water from last year.”

Crime Stoppers took 66 more calls in 2014 over the previous year, increased its Facebook page views by 61,258, or 25 per cent, received 66 more tips, helped provide information that led to 35 more arrests, and helped the RCMP to clear 58 more cases than in 2013.

Patterson said while it’s not a competition, year over year, the numbers for 2014 are an indication that people care about their community and are willing to get involved. Patterson also acknowledged the use of social media and the Internet, which provides Crime Stoppers with a broader reach.

When a body was found last summer in the Oyster River, photos posted by Crime Stoppers of the victim’s T-shirt generated valuable tips for police.

“The RCMP had the file for over 30 days, couldn’t I.D. who the person was,” Patterson said. “Crime Stoppers posted the photo and within 22 hours we had a name.”

And after human remains from Cortes Island were given to a Campbell River thrift store in a box, Crime Stoppers posted photos of the woman at the store and Patterson said that in less than 24 hours, Crime Stoppers received three tips with the name of the lady who brought the bones in.

Patterson said because Crime Stoppers allows those with knowledge of a crime to anonymously report what they know without fear of reprisal, it often encourages those who may be too close to the criminal to come forward.

Patterson said Crime Stoppers deals with a lot of those types of cases – people not inclined to go to police but under the cloak of anonymity, feel comfortable approaching Crime Stoppers.

As coordinator, Patterson is responsible for taking all of those tips and works closely with the RCMP. Patterson works out of the police detachment and is paid by the City of Campbell River to work 30 hours a week.

Patterson told the regional district last week that because he’s paid by the city, it makes it difficult for him to travel to outlying areas to follow up on tips and subsequent criminal investigations.

Patterson and Crime Stoppers director Rob Harris asked the regional district to consider providing some seed money to get a program going within the regional district.

Harris said the money would go towards putting up signs in the smaller communities within the district, such as Gold River, Sayward, and Zeballos, to let people know the organization is available, as well as to expand Facebook advertising and provide mail-outs to the communities. Harris said Crime Stoppers would also like to get a tip fund going for other communities. He said that since funds for tips are all raised locally, tip money stays in Campbell River.

The board chose to defer a decision on funding to 015 budget planning.