SPECIAL REPORT: Behind Yuma’s anonymous tipline 78-CRIME
News 11's Adonis Albright brings us a behind the scenes look of how the tipline helps crack down on crime
YUMA, Ariz. (KYMA, KECY) - If you've lived in Yuma for some time, you've probably heard of 78-CRIME. It's an anonymous tipline that was established by a group of locals in Yuma, whose goal was to make it easier for residents to come forward about tips that could help crack a case.
When you see something suspicious but don't want to provide any personal information, that's where 78-CRIME comes in. But how does it work and how do you stay anonymous?
"A call comes in to 78-CRIME, it's answered by the Yuma [Police Department] dispatch center on an independent phone. The phone is not recorded, it doesn't have caller ID on it," said Rick Holtz, the 78-CRIME Board President.
With no advertisement budget, the tipline relies primarily on local media. You've probably heard it mentioned during one of our newscasts on News 11.
Once a tip has been recorded, it's logged on a sheet of paper inside a folder. Depending on the type of crime, the information provided then gets forwarded to the detective working on that particular case.
Besides the incentive of doing the good deed of potentially keeping criminals off the streets, there's also a cash reward of up to $1,000, depending on if the information you provide leads to an arrest. Christina Fernandez with the Yuma Police Department (YPD) explains that anonymity is guaranteed throughout the entire process.
"The only way the caller is able to be tracked is a number they're provided… Typically a four digit number. With that code, they are the ones who have to call us back if they want to check on the case," said Fernandez.
The board meets once a month to discuss topics involving the tipline, as well as the cash awards for the tips submitted. Over the more than 40 years the board has been operating, roughly $100,000 has been awarded, according to Holtz. As a non-profit organization, the funds are independently raised through fundraisers and personal donations.
In 2021, there were 147 tips dialed in. In the first few months of 2022, there have been more than 60. YPD said the tipline is also a good indicator of what kind of crime is on the rise across the county. The board behind the 78-CRIME tipline wants the public to feel comfortable that if you see something, say something.
"78-CRIME is the perfect way to call in activity in your neighborhood," said Holtz.
For more information about 78-CRIME, you can visit the city of Yuma's website, or visit the 78-CRIME Facebook page.