I was lucky enough to be invited by coordinator Ken Decoster to the Rockford Crime Stoppers luncheon Wednesday at the Radisson Hotel and Conference Center. I say lucky, because you feel pretty darn safe being surrounded by the area's finest law enforcement personnel, and because I learned just how much difference Crime Stoppers makes in the local area.

For those only vaguely familiar with Rockford Crime Stoppers, a little background from the Crime Stoppers website:

Rockford Area CRIME STOPPERS was founded in 1981, as a cooperative effort by Winnebago County citizens, civic leaders, the media and law enforcement officials to help reduce crime.

Crime Stoppers offers cash rewards up to $1000 to individuals who call with information that helps law enforcement agencies identify criminal activity, solve crimes, recover stolen property or apprehend fugitives.

Crime Stoppers always encourages people to call their respective Police agencies. If they are uncomfortable doing so, they can call Crime Stoppers to report the information and remain completely anonymous.

No tax dollars are ever used for Crime Stoppers rewards. The organization is funded through private donations.

Ken Decoster was nice enough to provide every table at yesterday's luncheon with a print-out that really shows how citizens teaming up with law enforcement makes our community a better place.

Let's take a look at this year's numbers thus far (January, 2016 through April, 2016):

  • 321 cases cleared
  • 172 arrests
  • $217,161 value of recovered property and money
  • $152,010 in narcotics recovered

Here's what Rockford Crime Stoppers has done since 1981:

  • 39,696 cases cleared
  • 18,721 arrests
  • $21,095,148 value of recovered property and money
  • $47,310,907 in narcotics recovered
  • $2,054,004 paid out in rewards

Since 2002, Rockford Crime Stoppers has given:

  • $126,000 in scholarships (for those pursuing a career in law enforcement)
  • $1,260,000.54 in grants to area law enforcement agencies

Keep in mind, Rockford Crime Stoppers does what they do so well without the use of tax dollars.

If you can help Crime Stoppers, give them a call at (815) 963-7867, or toll-free at (888) 769-STOP (7867).

Here's how it works when you call:

When people call with information they are NEVER ASKED TO GIVE THEIR NAMES. CRIME STOPPERS personnel take the information and forward it to the appropriate law enforcement agency for investigative follow-up.

Callers are then given a personal code number, which they can use to check the status of their case, report future information, criminal activity, fugitives or to collect a cash reward up to $1,000.

The CRIME STOPPERS phone lines are secure and DO NOT HAVE CALLER ID.