Tri-Cities Crime Stoppers closed fewer cases in 2013, but still helping

By Ty Beaver, Tri-City HeraldJanuary 1, 2014 

Dozens of arrests. Hundreds of cleared cases. Thousands of dollars in recovered property and narcotics. All because of the public's help.

Tri-Cities Crime Stoppers has been around for 28 years and continued to pay dividends in 2013, said Mike Blatman, law enforcement liaison for the program.

The number of arrests and closed cases is down compared with some past years, but a lot of police work is still getting accomplished because of the public bulletins, Blatman said.

"If we don't put that information out there, that case isn't going to be solved," he said.

Authorities received 501 tips through Crime Stoppers in 2013, leading to 87 arrests and 243 cleared cases. That's down from the 538 tips, 99 arrests and 306 cleared cases in 2012, and the 530 tips, 92 arrests and 400 cleared cases in 2011.

The fluctuation in results between years is typical because the number of tips received varies from case to case, Blatman said. On any given day, one bulletin for a wanted individual may generate 600 views on the Crime Stoppers Facebook page while another struggles to get 50 views, even if the cases involve similar charges.

The program proved it had a far reach this year. For example, law enforcement was able to track a Pasco woman wanted on a probation violation who had left the state for Florida earlier this fall.

People called in tips on her travels, putting pressure on her and anyone housing her. She eventually returned to the Tri-Cities and was arrested.

"Every time she moved, someone was telling us," Blatman said.

Tips to Crime Stoppers also led to the arrests of four people tied to the theft of 785 gallons of gasoline around the Tri-Cities with the use of a stolen gas card in the spring. That case is working its way through the courts.

The program focuses on apprehending people for crimes. Recovering stolen property, drugs or other contraband is a side benefit. Still, Crime Stoppers brought in about $8,000 in stolen goods and narcotics in 2013.

And though the program offers up to $1,000 for information toward a felony arrest, Blatman said that's a minor cost most years. Only $1,700 was paid out for tips this year.

"The vast number of people who report things don't ask for a reward," he said. "It's the anonymity that they want."

w Ty Beaver: 509-582-1402; tbeaver@tricityherald.com; Twitter: @_tybeaver; Google+: +TyBeaverTCHerald

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