Motorcycle ride to benefit Crime Line

Published 9:55 pm Monday, April 20, 2009

Dozens of motorcycles are expected to motor through the city on Saturday in a fundraising event for the Suffolk Crime Line.

“Bikers Against Crime,” a 60-mile, police-escorted ride over roads in Suffolk, Windsor and Carrollton, is one of the primary fundraisers for the local Crime Line organization, according to Detective Carlos Gonzales, chairman of Suffolk’s Crime Line Board of Directors.

“It’s a pretty good time,” he said of the event, which is in its fourth year. “We’re just hoping for good weather.”

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Forecasters, in fact, are calling for beautiful weather — sunny, with temperatures in the 80s. It’s just the kind of weather to bring out what Gonzalez called “the fair-weather motorcycle enthusiasts” that could help fill the Crime Line Board’s coffers.

The board uses the fundraisers to supplement the private donations that are its only other source of income to support the rewards it gives to those who help police identify and arrest criminals for crimes throughout the city.

Though Suffolk shares a Crime Line phone number — 1-888-LOCK-U-UP — with other Hampton Roads cities, each member locality, Gonzalez said, is responsible to raise its own reward money. The boards are privately supported, receiving no help from the city or the state.

That means board members are perpetually shaking the bushes to try to find extra money to support the rewards program.

“You pretty much get out there and get what you can get and hope you have enough,” he said.

Other fundraisers include raffles and pancake breakfasts. And local citizens, along with civic and fraternal organizations, provide quite a bit of support, he said.

Gonzalez and one of the police department’s evidence technicians — both recreational motorcycle riders and frequent participants in similar fundraising rides — came up with the idea soon after he was asked to serve on the Crime Line Board several years ago.

It was a small event the first year, attracting only 20 or 30 bikers. Last year, there were about 80 participants.

“Each year, it’s gotten out to the public a little bit more and a little bit more, and it brings in a little bit more money every year,” he said. The event supports the law enforcement program, but it’s designed for and enjoyed by people from all walks of life — “a variety of people, motorcycle clubs and groups,” he said.

Crime Line has had a broad impact within the Hampton Roads community since its inception in 1982, according to a press release from the organization.

The nonprofit, community program unites the public, the media and the police in the fight against crime by offering anonymity and cash rewards to citizens who give police tips about crime and criminal suspects.

If a caller’s information leads to an arrest, the recovery of stolen property or the seizure of illegal drugs, that caller can receive a cash reward of up to $1,000.

Callers have helped close the books on more than 15,000 cases and have assisted in the recovery of millions of dollars worth of stolen property and illegal drugs since 1982, the release stated.

“It’s very useful,” Gonzalez said on Monday. “Sometimes, it’s just that one little piece of information … that (I) as a detective may be looking at that gives me the edge. That may be the piece that I need to make an arrest.”

Registration for Saturday’s ride begins at 9 a.m. at Nansemond River High School, 3301 Nansemond Parkway; the ride begins at 11. Depending on the number of riders participating, lunch will be served back at the high school soon after noon.

Sonic of Suffolk will donate lunch, and the band Long Shot will provide entertainment.

The event is sponsored by HEART of Suffolk, RE/MAX Across Town, Remedies, Morbid Amusements, Birdsong Peanuts, Mike Duman Auto Sales, Ken Deloach Insurance Agency, Firehouse Subs and the Suffolk Police Association.