10/24/12 — Crime Stoppers fundraiser Nov. 1

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Crime Stoppers fundraiser Nov. 1

By John Joyce
Published in News on October 24, 2012 1:46 PM

In the 30 years since its inception, Wayne County Crime Stoppers has led to more than $10 million in recovered property and narcotics seized, and helped solve more than 8,000 cases.

"The basic concept of the program has worked well since day one, but there has been progress made with computers, cell phones, and now texting," said Rick Sutton, the executive director of the organization.

Sutton is a retired investigator who remains dedicated to solving crimes and bringing closure to families. His association with Crime Stoppers began when the program started in 1982. After retiring from the force, he volunteered for six years on the tip-line's board of directors and was hired as executive director two years ago.

Today Sutton, and Sgt. Paige Learnard who fills the role of law enforcement coordinator first occupied by Sutton, work to keep the information flowing in to law enforcement agencies throughout the county.

"It all comes to this phone," said Sgt. Learnard, holding up a cell phone docked permanently on her hip.

Calls and texts pour in with information on crimes of all sorts, from the high profile murder cases plaguing the city, to property crimes, fugitive locations and up to the minute directions from tipsters.

"They'll even text us as we roll up and say things like, 'The car that just passed you, that's them!" Learnard said.

The caller information is blocked by the phone company; not even Sgt. Learnard knows who is calling in with information.

Crime Stoppers used to hold an annual telethon and receive contributions from callers to boost its coffers. It still relies on contributions but mainly get them from local businesses who donate on a yearly basis.

"We're holding on," said Sutton.

Through the downturn in the economy there has been some drop off in how much they can give, businesses have had to cut back."

Sutton and Learnard are still doing what they can to raise money for Crime Stoppers, which pays up to $1,000 for arrests in felony cases.

"We've been holding a reverse drawing in recent years. The big prize is $5,000," said Sutton.

This year's reverse drawing will be held Nov. 1, and tickets are on sale now for $100 each and can be purchased by calling the Crime Stoppers business line at (919) 734-8177.

The Crime Stoppers receives tips related to any crime in the county, no matter the jurisdiction or the nature of the illicit activity. Call (919) 735-2255, or text (919) 222-4230.