Bids on celebrity items to aid Tri-Cities Crime Stoppers

By Paula Horton, Tri-City HeraldOctober 14, 2012 

Fans of Ringo Starr, Johnny Depp or BB King can attend a Tri-Cities Crime Stoppers fundraiser next weekend and try to outbid others for autographed goods from the celebrities.

The autographed items -- complete with certificates of authenticity -- will be featured in the silent auction at the annual Cops, Robbers & Superheroes fundraiser.

"It's kind of cool ... and it's a little bit different," said Mike Blatman, Kennewick police crime prevention specialist and law enforcement coordinator for Tri-Cities Crime Stoppers. "Everything is really high quality."

Cops, Robbers & Superheroes is Crime Stoppers' biggest fundraiser of the year, he said.

It's at 6 p.m. Saturday at Tagaris Winery, 844 Tulip Lane in Richland.

Tickets are $50 a person, and include two glasses of wine and some appetizers.

To buy tickets, call Blatman at 582-1351 by Oct. 17. Only 50 tickets remain.

All of the money raised goes to support the Tri-Cities Crime Stoppers' reward fund. Crime Stoppers pays a cash reward of up to $1,000 for information that results in a felony arrest.

More money has been paid out this year than last year and there's still three months left, Blatman said. So far this year, Crime Stoppers paid 12 rewards totaling $2,500, while last year they paid 15 rewards worth $1,800.

But most tipsters don't collect the rewards, Blatman said.

"The vast majority of people want the anonymity," he said.

Since 1985, more than $71,000 in rewards have been paid.

As of Oct. 1, Tri-Cities Crime Stoppers has featured 406 cases, closed 207 and arrested 67 people wanted for warrants, new crimes or featured as fugitives through tips provided to police.

At the Cops, Robbers & Superheroes events, attendees can dress up as their favorite cop, villain or superhero. Best costume will win a prize.

There will be 30 items up for bid during the silent auction. About a dozen items came from Charity Fundraising, a New Jersey company that provides the autographed items to help nonprofit groups raise money.

There are minimum bids on the items -- the Ringo Starr autographed drum head and photo starts at $400, while a signed picture of Johnny Depp from the Pirates of the Caribbean movie starts at $250.

"We're not out any money if the minimum bid isn't reached," Blatman said. "If it sells for above the minimum bid, it's sold. If not, we can ship it back."

At least one item definitely will not be going back. Blatman has his eyes on the Pirates of the Caribbean picture, so attendees interested in that will have to be ready for a bidding war.

Other celebrity items include signed pictures by Dale Earnhardt Sr., Willie Mays and Yogi Berra, a photo of all six actors who have played James Bond, and movie posters of pictures from Batman, Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings.

There also is a picture signed by six American astronauts and a photo autographed by musician Carlos Santana, who has helped other Crime Stoppers groups.

Attendees with a sweet tooth also will get a chance to pick up some tasty treats in the dessert auction.

The evening event also will include a live theater performance where actors and actresses in an unsolved crime will mingle with guests trying to solve the mystery, a 50/50 drawing and palm reading.

For more information on the event, call Blatman at 582-1351 or go to www.tricitiescrimestoppers.org.

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