‘It’s a real hurdle for people’: Crime Stoppers provides anonymous option for witnesses of crime

Local News

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. (WCIA)– Part of deterring crime is solving it. To do that, law enforcement needs evidence, witnesses, and often, a combination of both. Officials have told us over and over, people who witness crimes are hesitant to come forward.

That’s where Crime Stoppers comes in.

It’s a non-profit that was created 50 years ago to solve a homicide. Since then, the organization, made up entirely of civilian volunteers, has spread across the country, including Central Illinois.

It’s a relatively simple concept. Basically, when someone has information about a crime, they share it anonymously with Crime Stoppers. Then a third party passes it on to law enforcement.

If an arrest is made from that tip, there’s a cash reward.

Anonymity is the key, according to Champaign County Crime Stoppers President John Hecker, because so many are afraid to speak up. Some fear retaliation or testifying in court. Hecker said Crime Stoppers exists for this reason.

“It’s a real hurdle for people, and I think most of us can identify with it. We want to be helpful up to a point, and that point being, I don’t want my name known but here’s the information,” he added.

When you submit a tip, your contact information is automatically redacted electronically, according to Hecker.

“There’s no way in the world we can find out who that individual is,” he said.

When you call in, it shows up as an unknown caller ID. Hecker told us if someone even starts to say their name, Crime Stoppers cuts them off.

Right now, Hecker said if a tip leads to arrest in a felony case involving an illegal gun, it’s an automatic $1,000 reward.

You can submit tips by phone at 217-373-8477, on the Crime Stoppers website, or on the app (P3 Tips).

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