It’s not often that the Crime Stoppers board of directors gets to see where its money is going, but on Tuesday five people stepped forward to receive their prizes from a recent drawing.
Brenda Loesch, Jim Rziha and Rosetta Garner, all from Great Bend, Ken Bieker from Hoisington and Pete Krier from Claflin each received a $100 gift certificate from the Great Bend Chamber of Commerce because they entered the drawing during the Great Bend Farm and Ranch Expo last month.
Jere Buehler from Crime Stoppers answered questions about the program that offers cash rewards for anonymous tips that help law enforcement officers recover stolen property or solve or prevent crimes.
“People don’t understand how it works,” Buehler said. “If you see a crime – or overhear something about a crime – you can call our phone numbers.” The phone number in Great Bend is 792-1300. There’s also a toll-free number, 888-305-1300.
The Crime Stoppers phone rings in the detective’s office at the Great Bend Police Department, but it is a special line where the calls are neither recorded nor traced. No one will ask a caller’s name. Protecting the caller's identity is required for this non-profit program.
“They assign you a number,” Buehler said.
During board meetings, the Crime Stoppers directors will learn about tips that officers found helpful. The tips can go to any law enforcement agency in the county or elsewhere.
If a tip gets results, the board may decide to pay a cash reward, which is usually $50 or more, up to $1,000. The tipster – known only by his or her unique number – is instructed to call back from time to time. If a reward is granted, that person is told how to collect.
“Our number one priority is to keep people anonymous,” Buehler said. Because police don’t know who provided information, that person is safe from retribution and will never be called to testify in court.
“We’re not a branch of law enforcement,” Buehler concluded. “We’re just an avenue to help them.”
Crime Stoppers is funded through donations, including donations made to diversion programs.