"To gas prices, foreclosure rates and the cost of rice, add this rising economic indicator: the number of tips to the police from people hoping to collect reward money.
“For this year, everyone that’s called has pretty much been just looking for money… That’s as opposed to the last couple of years, where some people were just sick of the crime and wanting to do something about it.”
As a result, many programs report a substantial increase in Crime Stopper-related arrests and recovered property, as callers turn in neighbors, grandchildren or former boyfriends in exchange for a little cash.
Sergeant Johnson has been a Crime Stoppers coordinator for 15 years, watching crime rates and tips fluctuate. But, he said, “I’ve never seen an increase like it is now.”
Some people have made a cottage industry of calling in tips. Although repeat callers do not give their names, operators recognize their voices.
“We have people out there that, realistically, this could be their job,” said Sgt. Zachary Self, who answers Crime Stoppers calls for the Macon Police Department.
“Two or three arrests per week, you could make $700, $750 per week,” Sergeant Self said. “You could make better than a minimum-wage job.”
Last week, the Crime Stoppers coordinator there, Trish Routte, got a call from a man reporting drug activity, a tip that paid him $450. It was his second call in a week, said Ms. Routte, who recognized the caller’s voice.
“He told me he really didn’t want to call but he just had a new grandbaby and he needed the money,” Ms. Routte said.
Economic problems for families, Ms. Routte acknowledged, were good business for Crime Stoppers. “We’re kind of banking on that, really,” she said. “If it helps put dinner on the table for somebody, that’s wonderful.”
(more at this New York Times link)