Pubdate: Wed, 12 Jan 2005
Source: Duncan News Leader (CN BC)
Copyright: 2005 Duncan News Leader
Author: Angie Poss, staff reporter


For every crime, there is someone who knows who is responsible,
someone who knows where the stolen goods, the drugs or the evidence is

It's that person who is the target of a public awareness campaign by
the Cowichan Crimestoppers program.

"If we all looked away it would be much worse out there. We're trying
to get the public involved to help police solve a crime,"
Crimestoppers board chair Horst Nowrath said.

The board is recognizing January as Crimestoppers month with a public
awareness campaign aimed at educating the community about the benefits
of the volunteer-driven program.

Sometimes it's revenge, sometimes it's the possibility of a reward,
but most often it's a desire to help the community that motivates
people to pick up the phone and make a tip, said the local RCMP
liaison with the program.

Sgt. Derek Crawford has been involved with the local Crimestoppers
program for four years.

"It's a really great one for getting extra bits of information on
those cases where people are reluctant. The conventional means of
reporting things doesn't always work for people. They're concerned
about their anonymity and that's the cornerstone of Crimestoppers. And
in fact that's been defended right up to the Supreme Court."

"It's totally anonymous. We emphasize that again and again. Any
information that could identify you is never revealed," said Nowrath.
The commitment to anonymity extends even to a policy of not
publicizing which cases were solved with the help of the program.

But Crawford would say that Crimestoppers has been particularly
helpful with investigations into marijuana grow operations, break and
enters and the Mugshot Program, which profiles wanted criminals in the

Both Crawford and Nowrath were surprised that many of the 90 to 100
people who call Crimestoppers in an average year don't ask for a reward.

"What I've found interesting about the program is that most people
aren't interested in the reward. They want to see the information get
into the right hands. Even if we didn't offer rewards, we'd have
appreciable success," said Crawford.

"People just want to do something," agreed Nowrath, who has
volunteered on the board for three years.

In the near future there may be one more way for people to do
something about crime.

The board is working to revive a student Crimestoppers program in
local schools.

"I think there's a lot of youth in the schools who would like to see
the right thing done to make their school a safer, more pleasant place
to be," said Crawford.

The program has proven to be a success, both locally and

The Cowichan chapter has helped police recover just over $361,000 in
property and $7.34 million worth of drugs since it began in 1985. In
return, $35,000 has been paid in rewards.

Internationally, the numbers are even more impressive. An estimated
$1.3 billion in property and $3.9 billion in drugs have been
recovered, leading to 880,000 solved cases. A total of about $56
million has been paid in rewards.

To raise its profile this month, the Cowichan chapter will have an
information booth set up at the Duncan Mall on Jan. 22. Anyone
interested in making a donation can mail it Crimestoppers c/o Hayes
Stewart Little and Co. 823 Canada Avenue, Duncan, V9L 1V2 or drop it
off at the same location.

"We're really trying to make the public aware that they can play a
part ... by reporting what they know," said Nowrath.

The community is the key to Crimestoppers' success.

"We're not solving them. It's the public that solves crimes, not
Crimestoppers," said Nowrath.
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