CUYAHOGA FALLS: Crime fighting tipster 15-7190: You’re reward is ready.
Cuyahoga Falls Police have no idea who alerted them to the marijuana-growing operation at a Loomis Street home — and it’s going to stay that way.
On Monday, four days after police raided the home and made an arrest, the department put out a social media blast that Tip 15-7190 was successful.
But thanks to a special exchange of phone number, password and secret bank location, the tipster won’t have to compromise his or her identity to collect their $100 bounty.
That’s exactly how Police Chief Jack Davis and Mayor Don Walters envisioned the program working when they launched the Crime Fighters Tip Line last June.
Walters said the system differs from most tip lines in two ways: Not only can the reward be claimed anonymously, but the city also will pay out for tips on minor ½crimes.
“The whole goal ... is it’s supposed to serve as a deterrent,” Walters said. “The more it’s publicized, the less apt anyone would be to commit a crime in Cuyahoga Falls.”
Even criminals will turn in criminals for a payday, Walters said.
“If someone breaks into a house [to steal], they have to sell their goods,” he said. Now even the people being invited to buy the stolen goods have an option to turn those goods down and report the thief for profit.
Davis said his officers have investigated about 20 credible calls in the past 10 months. About half of them have resulted in rewards of $25 to $200; several others are still open cases.
In a recent incident, Davis paid $25 each to four callers who identified a photo of a suspected credit card thief posted on the department’s Facebook page.
But the tip line’s highest profile victory to date led to a 3½-year prison sentence for a Munroe Falls man who had made bomb threats to Cuyahoga Falls High School.
Police said that 2013 case had grown cold after 16 months when someone dialed the tip line last Sept. 3.
The city’s phone system routed the call to a cellphone that does not show the originating phone number, and it’s answered live by a police supervisor 24 hours a day.
The tipster told Lt. Dale Gramley to look into former student Michael Nicodemus, who was investigated, arrested and ultimately convicted of three felonies.
Davis decides how much to pay for each tip after determining the value of the information with the help of his investigators.
He taps a fund that was started by city employees who paid $5 on Fridays for the privilege of wearing jeans to work. City Council chipped in $500 to help the fledgling effort last summer, and some businesses and civic groups since have followed suit.
Walters said after the past year’s payout, the fund stands at about $3,000, and is added to weekly by denim-clad City Hall staff.
In the case of the bomb threat, the tipster was able to collect $200 — the highest pay-out to date — by calling a voice mail where he learned the name of a bank where a teller would hand him a cash payout in exchange for a secret password.
“To be honest, somebody knows when somebody commits a crime,” Davis said. “There are very few [criminals] that don’t tell anybody what they’ve done.”
Paula Schleis can be reached at 330-996-3741 or email@example.com. Follow her on Facebook, or on Twitter at http://twitter.com/paulaschleis.