How Macon Regional Crimestoppers keeps tipsters’ identities anonymous
MACON, Ga—When you hear that the identities of tipsters are protected, Macon Regional Crimestoppers wants you to know you can bank on it—and sometimes literally.
“It’s all about teamwork,” said Macon Regional Crimestoppers Executive Director Corporal Greg Thomas. “When you establish trust, it’s easy to communicate, it’s easy to share, and when you communicate and share, you get results.”
Thomas said Crimestoppers goes to great lengths to make sure the process of reporting crimes is completely anonymous and safe for tipsters. He said it begins with the phone call itself.
“We do not have caller ID, so we can’t see the number that’s calling into us,” Thomas said, adding that incoming calls are in no way traced.
Further, Thomas said the Crimestoppers team is trained to handle calls in ways that do not compromise the caller’s identity.
“We’re not going to ask any qualifying questions as to their identity,” Thomas said. “We’re simply going to type in the information that they want to provide.”
Once that information is typed in the Crimestoppers system, it is passed along to the appropriate law enforcement agency. Thomas said in the notes, Crimestoppers use the pronoun “they,” purposefully avoiding using “he” or “she” as another layer of added protection against compromising tipster identities.
Tipsters are given numbers—and that number is their ticket to anonymously checking in on the status of cases they report and allows them to even add untraceable information online.
“When a caller calls-in and we give them their tip number, we also provide them with a website and password which allows them to text, upload, videos and photos to help build their tip information or to update the information as they come across it,” Thomas said.
If you’re wondering how tipsters can claim reward money anonymously, Thomas said, it again comes back to the tipster’s number.
“When the caller goes to the bank to pick up their reward check– what they do is they go to the teller and they ask or advise, ‘I’m here to pick up my reward check from Crimestoppers.’ The teller is going to ask for the tip number, not their name. So even the bank doesn’t know who they are,” Thomas said.
The tipsters then endorse the check, not with their names, but with their Crimestoppers number—and the bank cashes it before they leave.
Thomas said Macon Regional Crimestoppers appreciates the U.S. Marshal’s Southeast Regional Fugitive Task Force for providing it with office space. He said it also allows the two agencies to work closely together and, in some cases, greatly speed up the time it takes to get a suspect into custody.
Crimestoppers is a nonprofit group. It’s funded by private citizens, business owners and others who care about the community. Donations can be made through the organization’s website.