#SayItHere to fight crime

Crime Stoppers becomes social-media savvy

January is Crime Stoppers month around the world. The occasion in Norfolk featured a flag-raising at Governor Simcoe Square on Monday. On hand for the event were, from left, Neil Unwin of Simcoe, chair of Crime Stoppers of Haldimand and Norfolk, Insp. Joe Varga, chief of the Norfolk OPP, Delhi Coun. Mike Columbus, and Richard Maude of Simcoe, treasurer of Crime Stoppers of Haldimand and Norfolk. MONTE SONNENBERG / SIMCOE REFORMER

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Thugs intimidate their communities into silence with threats of retribution against anyone who reports their crimes.

That tactic is not available to them, however, when their community learns to #SayItHere.

#SayItHere is the social media hashtag Crime Stoppers has adopted to teach members of the public how they can help solve a crime anonymously and at no risk to themselves. There might even be some pocket money in it for them.

Crime Stoppers of Haldimand and Norfolk is among the hundreds of crime-fighting chapters world-wide that have established a social media presence.

Visitors to Crime Stoppers on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram are discouraged from divulging what they know at these sites. But the directions are there to safely and confidentially help law enforcement bring criminals and associated scofflaws to justice.

“They can’t report to us on social media because we can’t guarantee anonymity,” Neil Unwin, chair of the local Crime Stoppers chapter, said at a flag-raising event at Governor Simcoe Square Monday.

“We’re not police. We’re civilians who are here to help people who don’t want to contact police.”

Social media mavens who want to learn more about Crime Stoppers can do so by clicking on the #SayItHere hashtag.

The local Crime Stoppers chapter has hung out a shingle on Twitter at @hncrimestoppers, on Facebook at Crime Stoppers of Haldimand, Norfolk, and at hncrimestoppers on Instagram.

January is traditionally celebrated around the world as Crime Stoppers month.

To that end, a number of local dignitaries and law enforcement officials gathered in the sleet at Governor Simcoe Square for a flag-raising event. Norfolk Mayor Kristal Chopp weighed in with a letter supporting and encouraging Crime Stoppers crime-fighting efforts.

“While Norfolk is an extremely safe place to live, work and play, I do encourage anyone who witnesses a crime to take advantage of Crime Stoppers’ service,” Chopp said in a letter to Unwin.

“On behalf of all the citizens of Norfolk County, I’d like to thank Crime Stoppers of Haldimand and Norfolk for their tireless work helping to solve crime and keeping us safe. Your efforts do not go unnoticed by the people you serve.”

Statistics provided by Crime Stoppers of Haldimand and Norfolk reveal that the local chapter received more than one tip a day in 2018. Insp. Joe Varga, chief of the Norfolk OPP, says this assistance is invaluable.

“It’s another level of community policing for us,” Varga said. “It gives a voice to people who otherwise might not come forward. They are highly valued. They open the entire community to being our eyes and ears.”

A total of 27 people were arrested in Haldimand and Norfolk last year thanks to tips to Crime Stoppers. A total of 110 charges were laid.

Statistics provided by the local chapter say 504 tips were received last year and $4,300 allotted in reward money. The total value of narcotics seized was $67,050 while the value of stolen property recovered came to $8,560.

Crime Stoppers was pioneered in New Mexico in 1976 and has since spread around the globe. The number to dial locally is 1-800-222-8477.

Callers to Crime Stoppers who help solve a crime are eligible for a cash reward up to $2,000.

Callers to Crime Stoppers do not identify themselves, do not speak to a police officer, and do not testify in court. Crime Stoppers does not subscribe to call display.

MSonnenberg@postmedia.com

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