Chatham-Kent Crime Stoppers reported tips rose in 2017 compared to 2016, but total drugs and property seized was down substantially.
Dave Bakker, co-ordinator for the local Crime Stoppers group, credited social media for helping to increase the tips, but said a province-wide investigation on human trafficking led to a drop in seized property and drugs to just under $1 million in 2017 compared to nearly $3 million a year prior. In 2015, the number was at $2.8 million.
“The Chatham-Kent Police Service drug unit got involved with the major human trafficking investigation in the province. That took up a lot of time,” he said. “In 2018, we’re already seeing the numbers rebounding.”
The local Crime Stoppers program, with its more than $100 million in property and drugs recovered and seized over the past three decades, is the envy of many other locations, Bakker said.
“We’ve surpassed programs in much, much bigger communities than here,” he said. “We live in a safe community with a relatively low crime rate too.”
As for getting the word out, Bakker said the use of social media along with traditional media covers a lot of ground.
“It’s one of the best ways to reach the community,” he said of social media. “People are just interested in it.”
Bakker said once a post hits social media regarding a crime, police usually have a suspect in custody within 48 hours.
When marijuana is legalized this summer, Bakker expects Crime Stoppers will receive a number of calls of confusion at first.
“You’ll be allowed to grow up to four plants for personal consumption,” he said, anticipating neighbours calling in to report pot plants in someone’s backyard.
But despite the legalization for personal consumption for adults, Bakker expects there will be little change in the illegal grow operations.
“Growers will continue to grow. A lot of what we see here goes to the U.S.,” he said.
When marijuana is legalized, he said some of the illegal pot would also still be sold to minors.
“It will still be illegal for persons under the age of 19 to possess it. A lot of the users are in that age group,” he said.