Crime Stoppers aims to make county safer

Amanda Moss Richmond County Daily Journal

November 15, 2013

Richmond County Crime Stoppers is looking to form partnerships with the community to make this county a safer place.

Crime Stoppers is a program where members of the community, the media and law enforcement agencies work together to solve crimes. The program offers cash rewards to citizens, with the promise of anonymity, who provide information that lead to an arrest and indictment of criminals.

Dorothy Cain, coordinator for the organization, joined the team in July. Since then, she has made a very effective addition to the organization.

Rick Deese, the chairman for the organization, could only praise the work that Cain has done. She went to the North Carolina Crime Stoppers Association annual training conference in Charlotte as a representative for Richmond County to learn about other crime stopper organizations in North Carolina.

“It was very enlightening,” Cain said. “Whenever you can get a group together from different areas, you can see what their doing versus what you’re doing. You can see what is the most effective method of stopping crime in your area. It is incredible because it gives you an idea of how far you can go, better ideas for fundraisers and how to get the community together.”

And thanks to her experience, Richmond County Crime Stoppers is now looking to partner with churches as well as community watch groups in the area.

“It adds fuel to the fire,” Cain said. “We will get more tips and we can serve the public better. We want to be more proactive and more accessible. To do that we need help from the community.”

The Richmond County Crime Stoppers has been active for 13 years. It first started in the school systems as Campus Crime Stoppers before it expanded to the community. In 2007, Richmond County’s branch was voted as the most outstanding organization in North Carolina.

“I think we have definitely made it safer here,” Deese said. “We would still like to make it safer.”

Crime Stoppers has a tip line in the sheriff’s office. There is someone to answer it at all ours of the day, and it is specifically used for Crime Stoppers. There is no caller identification, and it is the only phone in the sheriff’s office that is not recorded.

“We don’t even ask name for a name on the line,” Cain said. “We give them a four-digit number so they can call back to check on the tip given.”

The tip line has lead to numerous arrests of crimes committed in the area. With more people aware of the tip line and working together in the community, that number will continue to grow.

“We want it where the community feels comfortable calling whenever,” Deese said. “If that is the case, we can take care of things before they actually happen. You don’t have to wait until a house gets broken into or car gets vandalized. If you see something suspicious, call the number and we can get someone to take a look. We want to be proactive instead of reactive.”

Along with asking the help of churches and community watch groups, Crime Stoppers is asking that people be aware of their surroundings.

“The bad thing about today is people are so busy,” Cain said. “Sometimes people don’t even know who their neighbors are.”

By having meetings with churches and community watch, the people in the area will get to know one another and learn to look out for each other.

“That in itself will make this county a lot safer,” Cain said.

If you are a church or community watch group that would like to get involved with Richmond County’s Crime Stoppers, please call 910-410-1117. If you have any information on a recent crime and would like to give a tip, please call 910-997-5454.