Crime Stoppers tips seize close to $1M in illicit drugs

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Crime Stoppers Month in Canada was observed by the local branch and municipal officials in a flag-raising ceremony at the Civic Centre recently. Taking part in raising the flag are Chatham-Kent Police Service inspectors Mike Donomy, left and Mike Pearce, right, Coun. Marjorie Crew, Crime Stoppers’ president Angie Shreve, vice president Aaron Hurst and program co-ordinator Erica McIntosh.

By Michael Bennett
Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
The Ridgetown Independent News

Anonymous tips from the public to Chatham-Kent Crime Stoppers led to the seizure of close to $1 million in illicit drugs by the Chatham-Kent Police Service in 2023.

The local branch released its annual report in conjunction with a flag-raising ceremony recently at the Chatham-Kent Civic Centre, with board members, CKPS and municipal officials in observance of Crime Stoppers Month across Canada.

As a part of Crime Stoppers Month, the local branch is sponsoring a free public skate at the East Kent Memorial Arena on Jan. 21, at 2:30 p.m.

Crime Stoppers reported significant increases in the dollar value of drugs seized and the number of tips received in 2023 over the previous year.

Erica McIntosh, Crime Stoppers program co-ordinator, said two major drug busts led to nearly $1 million of products seized, far exceeding the $102,780 in drugs seized in 2022.

The CKPS Intelligence Section seized approximately $500,000 in illegal drugs in a controlled drugs and substance search warrant conducted in Chatham in August. The CKPS Intelligence Unit also led Project Breakout, a multi-police jurisdiction effort that executed simultaneous search warrants in Chatham, London, and St. Thomas in October, resulting in a total of $1 million in drugs seized in the three cities.

The annual report indicated Chatham-Kent Crime Stoppers received 543 anonymous tips from the public in 2023, up from 479 in 2022 but down from 586 in 2021. Last year’s 543 tips led to 10 arrests, 32 charges being laid, and 86 cases being cleared by local police. By comparison, the 479 tips in 2022 led to 15 arrests, 41 charges, and 109 cases being cleared, while the 586 tips in 2021 led to 55 arrests, 145 charges, and 109 cases being cleared.

McIntosh said increases in funding allowed for more media engagement and incidents made public by police that led to more tips being forwarded.

Although not every tip leads to an arrest or a reward, Crime Stoppers encourages the public to keep forwarding information on any crime, knowing their identity will never be asked for or revealed.

“Crime Stoppers is 100 percent anonymous; whatever you feel like you want to share, absolutely submit it,” McIntosh said. “We’ll never ask you for your name or phone number.”

She added that tipsters never have to attend the police station or testify in court.

If a tip does lead to a reward, a drop-off will be arranged through a third party, as the tipster is only known by a case number. Citizens can submit a tip to help solve a crime by calling Crime Stoppers at 519-351-8477 or 1-800-222-TIPS (8477) or by email to ckcrime@chatham-kent.ca You can also go online to www.crime-stoppers.on.ca to get a report form or go to Chatham-Kent Crime Stoppers’ Facebook page.

The local Crime Stoppers branch started in 1987, a partnership with the public, police and media to help solve crime by offering cash rewards for anonymous tips. Crime Stoppers is a non-profit organization run by a volunteer board of directors, whose role is to seek sponsorships from community partners and run fundraising activities to raise the money to cover the cost of its tip line, anti-crime programs and cash rewards.

Crime Stoppers does not receive any government funding.

“We continue to work closely with Chatham-Kent Police and the media, updating our Facebook and Instagram pages to get information out and to encourage the public to forward any information they can share,” McIntosh said.

Since its inception 36 years ago, citizens of Chatham-Kent have submitted 30,002 anonymous tips to Crime Stoppers, leading to 7,666 arrests, 16,456 charges laid, and 11,316 cases cleared from police dockets. A total of $104,896,346 in drugs have been seized, $10,507,651 property recovered, and 340 illegal weapons seized, thanks to tips submitted to Crime Stoppers by citizens.

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