Written by Gabriel Dillard
With violent crime on the rise in Fresno in 2020 — and the highest murder rate in 16 years — Valley Crime Stoppers saw its busiest year on record.
The organization that pays rewards for anonymous tips from the community to solve violent crime paid the most rewards since its inception in 1993. It received 3,200 tips that led to 149 arrests, just under $100,000 rewards paid and $140,000 in property and drugs recovered from criminals, according to its annual report.
Tipsters who call about gang crimes received a premium payout anywhere from 50-100%. And due to increased gang violence in Q4 2020, the gang homicide tip reward was increased from $3,000 to $5,000 through the end of the year.
Like most nonprofits last year, Valley Crime Stoppers was forced to cancel its major annual fundraiser, the June Jam, on what would have been its 25th anniversary. Despite the decline in fundraising, Valley Crime Stoppers was able to expand its scholarship program for law enforcement students with State Center Community College from two to five $1,000 awards.
Susan Blaze, Valley Crime Stoppers program director, said the organization got its start 28 years ago when five local residents pooled their money to start offering rewards for tips. But since then, support from business sponsors has become crucial as 100% of sponsor donations go toward paying tips.
“We hope to help law enforcement,” Blaze said. “Any business that participates will help law enforcement as well.”
Sponsors for 2020 listed in the annual report include Papé, Donaghy Sales, Educational Employees Credit Union, M Cubed Technologies and more.
For more information, to submit a tip or become a Valley Crime Stoppers sponsor, visit http://www.valleycrimestoppers.org.