Take a ride out of crime

Published 9:46 pm Friday, April 9, 2010

Dozens of bikers will be taking to the streets of Suffolk next week in support of the Suffolk Crime Line.

The fifth annual Suffolk Crime Line Motorcycle Ride will leave Nansemond River High School at 10 a.m. April 17, winding its way through the area’s back roads for a good cause. The registration fees of $20 per driver and $10 per rider will support awards the Suffolk Crime Line pays out for anonymous tips.

“It’s very important, because the police don’t have eyes for every crime in the city,” said Cathy Richards, the chair of Crime Line this year. “The Crime Line is just one tool they can use.”

Anyone who believes they have information about a crime or a wanted person’s whereabouts can call 1-888-LOCK-U-UP. The number is manned 24 hours a day, seven days a week, but may be answered by voice mail if the police staffer manning the line is busy at the time, Richards said.

Once the call is answered by a police staffer, the caller gives his information anonymously and is assigned a caller number and told to call back at a certain time.

If the information leads to an arrest, the recovery of stolen goods or drugs, the Suffolk Crime Line board hears about it during its next meeting. A police liaison, identifying the caller by his caller number, tells the board about the crime, the information given and the arrest. The board determines what amount of money will be awarded.

When the informant calls back at the assigned time and gives his caller number, he is informed how much money he will receive and assigned a code name. He then is told to visit SunTrust Bank on North Main Street, ask for a certain bank employee and give his caller number and code name. Anyone who comes in with the correct caller number and code name receives the cash reward.

“It works very well,” Richards said. In 2009, Suffolk Crime Line tipsters helped solve 44 cases and received $9,205 in rewards — an average of $209.

The Suffolk Crime Line has seen a marked increase in its number of callers, Richards said. She partly attributed the rise to the economy, saying that people were calling about things they wouldn’t have reported before just to get the money.

All the money for rewards comes from donations and fundraising events like next week’s motorcycle ride. The program is not supported by any public dollars.

The organization also supports Crime Stoppers programs in the city’s middle and high schools.

“It’s a very worthwhile organization,” Richards said. “The last thing we want is for the organization to go under because there’s no money.”

The Crime Line ride on April 17 will feature lunch and raffles at Nansemond River High School after the ride. To register, arrive at the school by 9:30 a.m.