Often, board members of Barton County’s Crime Stoppers don’t know who is getting their money. That wasn’t the case Tuesday night.
Crime Stoppers allows people to call in tips about crimes with the assurance, “We don’t want your name, just your information.” They are given a code number, and if the information is useful, they can claim a cash reward with no one knowing who the tip came from or who picked up the cash.
The names of five Barton County residents who were rewarded at Tuesday’s board meeting are known, because they are winners of a free drawing. Names were collected at the Crime Stoppers booth last month at the Great Bend Farm & Ranch Expo. Roger Long, Gerald Mauler, Kimberley Clark, Tedi Lacey and Nelson Wharton each received $100 in Great Bend “Chamber Bucks.”
JP Postlethwaite, secretary/treasurer of the Crime Stoppers board, said those weren’t the only public expenditures of late. Last month, the board donated $500 to help build the Golden Belt Memorial Park Veterans Memorial. Later this month, the organization will award two scholarships, as it does each year, to seniors graduating from a Barton County high school.
That doesn’t mean the anonymous rewards have stopped. At Tuesday’s meeting, the board approved money for two tips that led to three arrests. In one case, the suspect allegedly stole checks from a house and had begun forging checks, but was caught thanks to the anonymous tip. In the second case, the caller knew the location of two fugitives — a man wanted on a narcotics charge and his girlfriend, who was wanted for probation violation — who had fled to Texas. With the help of Texas law enforcement, they were captured and returned to Barton County.
More tips needed
Board members said they depend on information from the public to help officers solve crimes. To leave a tip, call 792-1300 in Great Bend or the toll-free number, 888-305-1300.
One case of particular interest is the death of Rhiannon M. Young on Oct. 12, 2013. The 33-year-old Great Bend woman was found on the side of the U.S. 281 bypass in the 2300 block at approximately 8:15 that night. Law enforcement officers have few leads on her death, although she was seen by others earlier in the day in a white sport utility vehicle, and at a party near the area where she was found.
Crime Stoppers would also like to help law enforcement catch some of the people responsible for damaging or stealing county road signs. Replacing signs is costly, especially if it must be done on a weekend, which results in overtime, Postlethwaite said. Stop signs are replaced as quickly as possible to prevent accidents.
From Jan. 1 through March 15 of this year, Barton County has spent $16,000 on replacing missing or damaged road signs. And in 2012, the cost of replacing stop signs throughout the county topped $50,000, he said.