Monday, May 19, 2008

New Home Business Opportunity-No Startup, Inventory or Overhead

Add this to gas prices, foreclosure rates and the cost of rice as an economic indicator: the number of tips to the police from people hoping to collect reward money.

Cities and towns from one end of the US to the other, all report increases with tipsters telling operators they need the money for rent, light bills or baby formula.

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.

On Friday, a woman called the Regional Crime Stoppers line in Macon, Ga., to find out when she could pick up her reward money for a recent tip. She was irritated to learn that she would have to wait until Monday.

For tips that bring results, programs in most places pay $50 to $1,000, with some jurisdictions giving bonuses for help solving the most serious crimes, or an extra “gun bounty” if a weapon is recovered. In many places, the average payment for a tip that results in an arrest is $400.

Usually authorities deliver the money in an unmarked car and meet in a mutually agreed upon place, he said. But in these tight economic times, people go right to the office and walk right through the front door to collect their reward.

Crime Stoppers programs strictly protect the anonymity of callers. Each tip is assigned a number, and if the tip results in an arrest, the caller can collect a cash reward, usually by going to a designated bank. Some programs pay tipsters within hours of an arrest; others have monthly meetings to approve reward amounts.

Some people have made a cottage industry of calling in tips. Although repeat callers do not give their names, operators recognize their voices.

Two or three arrests per week, you could make $700, $750 per week. You could make better than a minimum-wage job.

In some cases, the quality of the tips is lagging as people grasp for any shred of information that might result in an arrest. A woman in Macon, for example, recently called to report that a family member — who was wanted for burglary and whose name and address were already known to the police — was at home. His home.

Places with quick payments and particularly bleak economic conditions tended to report increases in call volume. Lee County, Fla., had the highest rate for home foreclosures in the United States in February and March, and its once-plentiful construction jobs have dried up.

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.”

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