Organizations received 40 tips last year; paid out $950

Christopher Maher, Alice Echo-News Journal

The Crime Stoppers of South Texas organization completed a record year for tips and payouts in 2006, and officials hope to see more of the same in 2007.

Cpl. Michael Hinojosa, a crime prevention officer with the Alice Police Department and representative of Crime Stoppers of South Texas, said Friday the organization received 40 tips in 2006, up from just 17 in 2007.

Hinojosa credited the rise in tips to increased promotion of the Crime Stoppers organization, and with the introduction of a Safe Schools Program in almost every local school district.

"The majority of our calls have come from the schools," Hinojosa said. "Although we have had a few adults."

In 2006, the Crime Stoppers of South Texas introduced its Safe School Program into the school districts in Orange Grove, Premont, San Diego, Falfurrias and Ben Bolt. The organization is scheduled to make a presentation to Benavides ISD in February, and hopes to add additional schools this year.

As a result of the tips received, the Crime Stoppers of South Texas approved a record amount of payouts for tips, totalling $950 in 2006.

Tips received by the organization related to crimes including murder, weapons violations, illegal immigrant smuggling and narcotics.

"It goes from anything large to the smallest thing, you can get paid out for," crime prevention officer Cpl. Margarito Perez said Friday.

Hinojosa said no matter what the tips are in reference to, they invariably help law enforcement with their investigations.

"This provides us with better information, something our investigators may not have had," Hinojosa said. "Callers are calling in and leaving bits and pieces that help us put the puzzle together."

Crime Stoppers of South Texas can be reached by phoning 664-STOP. All calls are anonymous.