Hotline helps solve crime

By Julie Zvitkovits

Anybody can report a crime, any crime, and remain anonymous if they call the DeKalb Crime Stoppers.

Crime Stoppers is a hotline people can call anonymously at 895-3272, to report criminal activity.

“A student who may know of something illegal, but doesn’t want to get himself in trouble” can remain anonymous and get law enforcement to act, said Warren Osenberg, a board member and past president of Crime Stoppers.

Crime Stoppers notifies area police of each reported crime, said Capt. Jim Laben, DeKalb County Sheriff’s Office. Each caller is identified by number and has the option of calling back for information on case developments, he said.

Laben said people call for a number of reasons: some callers are concerned citizens but others, possibly personally involved with a criminal, just want the rewards.

Revenge also can be a motive, Osenberg said.

The Crime Stoppers board of directors determines the reward amount for the caller if one is neccessary, Laben said.

“Rewards are always in cash” and the maximum reward is $1,000, Osenberg said.

If the caller has remained anonymous, it is up to them to make arrangements with Crime Stoppers to receive their reward, Laben said.

“Law enforcement is not involved with rewards,” Osenberg said.

Laben said people feel their anonymity is protected if they are not directly involved with the police, although rewards can be picked up at a police station.

Between 1982 and 1989, $27,755 were awarded to callers, he said.

The non-profit organization was formed in 1982 by the DeKalb County Sheriff’s Office. The board of directors has about 27 members, including the chiefs of police of nearby counties, Osenberg said.

Between 1982 and 1989, Crime Stoppers received 696 tips, with 256 of the reported cases solved, Laben said. Police recovered more than $250,000 in narcotics and merchandise because of the tips, he said.

The organization is supported by donations, Osenberg said, adding people donating over $101 get a plaque.