By Keith J. McClellan
William Donal Weaver and Charles Moore recently visited with school officials in Blanco and Johnson City to enlist local support in the prevention and reporting of crime. “Crime is a scourge on our society,” said Governor Rick Perry. “It tears apart lives and breeds feelings of fear, anger and helplessness. As caring citizens, we are obligated to do everything in our power to ensure that our communities are not victimized by criminals.”
Weaver and Moore are members of the Hill Country Area Crime Stoppers board of directors serving Burnet, Llano, Mason and Blanco Counties. Crime Stoppers is a volunteer citizen directed non-profit 501c organization founded on the principle that someone other than criminals has information about a crime. The visit of these two crime fighters was designed to inform local leaders and to enlist their support in the reporting of illegal activities in our community.
Since they began in 1976, Crime Stoppers programs have empowered citizens across the state to take a stand against crime. These programs bring together businesses, citizens, law enforcement and the media to combat crime and to make our communities safer. Crime Stoppers has been particularly effective in Texas, where anonymous tips have led to 175,000 arrests and $1.2 billion in property and narcotics seized since its inception.
The goal of the local Crime Stoppers program is to generate anonymous tips from our communities and empower the public by showing them that they can make a difference. “We provide a 24-hour, bilingual toll-free tip line 1-866-756-TIPS (8477), with no caller ID, to the public and anonymity as the shield of protection given to callers, who are eligible for cash rewards if they provide viable information about a crime.”
The rewards come through the 33rd Judicial District from defendants placed on community supervision. The idea is to allow the criminal to help pay for a system that assists in the criminal’s apprehension rather than use tax revenues or state monies. In 2012 the Hill Country Area Crime Stoppers accounted for 11 arrests, 37 cases cleared, 535 calls for service, $10,350 in cash rewards, $800,000 in property recovered or destroyed, and $9,640 in narcotics seized.
The local Crime Stoppers organization has assisted law enforcement in the arrest of the number four Child Support Offender on the Attorney General’s Most Wanted list who owed back child support in the amount of $35,000. Burglaries of numerous storage stalls where property valued at over $25,000 was recovered and suspects arrested. The homicide of an Austin woman whose body was dumped on Max Starke Dam Road was resolved. Tips led to the arrest of students for criminal mischief at Blanco High School which amounted to over $500,000. Two children were removed from an abusive and drug filled home along with numerous drug busts. The largest drug lab in the history of Burnet County was busted and raw materials confiscated valued at $228,600. A boating accident was solved wherein a Lampasas High School student was killed. In Burnet County, tips led to the recovering of 61 marijuana plants. Eighteen arson cases in Llano County (Kingsland) were resolved that caused over $500.000 in damages. In Lampasas two arson cases were resolved with property damages in excess of $300,000. On January 18 of this year, a Crime Stoppers tip led to the arrest of a Kingsland Llano County bank robber.
Tipsters never have to give their names. There are no caller identifications—instead, callers are given a code number. Rewards are paid in cash at a bank of the caller’s choice by using the code number--no questions asked.
Parents and school officials are urged to discuss Crime Stoppers with school-age children as a deterrent to crime in our schools and neighborhoods. The Safe School Program is active in both the Blanco and Johnson City schools. A computer program (Tipsoft) is available for tips online from the Crime Stoppers website www.hccrimestoppers.com and a 24-hour 7-day a week telephone line for tips is available at 1-866-756-8477 (TIPS).
“Bad things happen,” said Weaver and Moore, “when good people sit and do nothing.”