Crimestoppers rewards bring in $21,000 in recovered drugs, property

Crimestoppers of Champaign County paid out $5,000 in rewards in 2011 for tips that led to more than $21,000 worth of recovered drugs and property.

Deputy Champaign Police Chief Troy Daniels, who serves on the Crimestoppers board, presented that statistic and others to fellow board members and law enforcement officers gathered Thursday for the annual luncheon of the group at the Urbana Country Club.

Now in its 26th year, the organization has helped solve 1,754 cases and assisted in 1,341 arrests since its inception.

"There's no question it has helped reduce crime," said Daniels. "If you take down a burglar, he may be committing as many as five burglaries a night. The same with armed robberies. Most likely, it's not the first time they've done it," he said.

During 2011, tips to the organization helped effect 58 arrests and resulted in 69 cases being solved.

"Usually, 8 to 10 percent of tips solve cases," said Daniels, who's been affiliated with Crimestoppers almost since its start. "And when they do make an arrest, it results in a conviction."

"We were crawling 26 years ago — crawling and begging," said President John Hecker, who has been with Crimestoppers of Champaign County since its start.

"We exist to support law enforcement agencies. We're very pleased with what's happened in Champaign County," Hecker said.

Of the statistics that the organization keeps, the biggest number of tips came in the fugitive category in 2011. There were 35 fugitive cases solved, bringing the number to 685 since the beginning of the organization.

Crimestoppers is funded by donations and fines levied on those convicted of crimes in Champaign County.

Keynote speaker at Thursday's luncheon was Orlando Thomas, director of achievement and student services in the Unit 4 schools.

Thomas credited the efforts of the Champaign police department's five school resource officers, stationed in the district's middle and high schools, for creating a safer learning environment.

He said time studies show the officers spend only 3 percent of their days responding to crime and disorder while concentrating the rest of their time on proactive measures like advising students and staff and patrolling school grounds.

Since the inception of the school resource officer program six years ago, there has been a 25 percent decrease in the number of out-of-school suspensions and a 66 percent decrease in the number of arrests, Thomas said.

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