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Crime Stoppers wants the community's help

(Source KSWO) (Source KSWO)

LAWTON, OK (KSWO) - If you have called Crime Stoppers of Southwest Oklahoma, you may have reward money waiting for you.

Crime Stoppers has been a way for residents in Lawton and Comanche County to provide anonymous tips to the police for more than 35 years. If the information you provide leads to a felony arrest, you can receive up to $1,000 cash.

When you call Crime Stoppers, no one has your name or number, you're simply given a number you are identified by. If your tip leads to an arrest, money is set aside for you, but you must call back with your ID number to check on the process of your case. Because of that, there are some Crime stoppers rewards that are simply sitting and waiting for someone to call and claim them.

If your tip leads to an arrest, it then goes to the Crime Stoppers board, who will decide what the payout for each specific tip should be.

"It varies depending on the type of crime and what it leads to, it can be up to $1,000. It’s based on a points system that's been established nationwide and we've adopted that,” said Crime Stoppers board member Jerry Hrnciar.

Once that money decision has been made, it is on the tipster to follow up on their tip using the ID number they were initially given.

"They can contact back to check out the outcome in the case of their tip and if it turns out there is a felony arrest, at that point they are given another set of numbers and they can go to a certain bank and go pick up their money,” said Detective Charles Whittington with the Lawton Police Department.

When you call Crime Stoppers, they refuse to take any sort of names or personal information to ensure no one in the department has any idea who you are.

"It takes out the fear of retaliation, it takes out the fear of something coming out on them, it gives them a sense of security,” said Whittington.

But that makes things confusing when it comes to actually giving you your money, as they can't exactly just pick up a phone and call you. That means your money will simply wait until you call back to follow your tip up.

"The time limit as far as what I've been told by the board is that it's indefinite. So if they call me back in a year, two years, three years, that money is set aside for that,” Whittington said.

As of right now, there is Crime Stoppers money from last year that remains unclaimed and Hrnciar says he thinks it's because Crime Stoppers is not as prominent in the community as it could be.

"A lot of the older generation has heard about us for quite a while so they're familiar with us so with the younger generation we try to work through social media and so forth to get them aware that they can help out by getting their fellow citizens to report what they might know,” Hrnciar said.

To do that, you can now actually submit a Crime Stoppers tip without ever even talking to someone at the station, by going to the Crime Stoppers website to submit a form or even simply texting "bust”, along with your tip, to 274-637. Whittington says if you have information, it's important you let Crime Stoppers know, no matter how you choose to get in touch with them.

"Nobody knows the business that goes on better than the people in the neighborhood. We have zone officers that work those areas 10 hours a day, four days on, three days off, but the people that are there 24/7 that are living there are the ones that see this, the people who run around with these people see this,” Whittington said.

On February 3rd, Crime Stoppers will be hosting an event for the entire community.

The event will be a meeting with all the neighborhood watch groups in our area. It will feature guest speakers like Lawton Police Chief James Smith and city council members and will serve as a way for neighborhood watch groups to meet people in their area, as well as get tips from the police department.

"It's a really good event for us to bridge that gap between the community, and crime stoppers and the police departments in the surrounding areas and help solidify that and make it a better walk for all three parties involved,” Whittington said.

That event will take place on February 3rd from 6 p.m. until 8 p.m. You can find out more information about it here.

Copyright 2017 KSWO. All rights reserved.

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