New Yorkers could get rewards of up to $3,500 for reporting information on violent crimes to the NYPD’s Crime Stopper hotline, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced on Monday.
Normally, the Crime Stoppers program offers rewards of up $2,500 for information on crimes like murders, robberies and shootings that lead to arrests and indictments. But due to fewer New Yorkers calling the hotline this year than in years past, the New York City Police Foundation, which runs the program, is boosting its maximum reward amount by $1,000.
The last time the NYPD and the New York City Police Foundation raised the program’s reward amount was in 2015 from $2,000 to $2,500.
Since the hotline was launched in 1983, tips from Big Apple residents have helped solve at least 53,000 cases across the five boroughs, according to the NYPD’s website. But over the last year, the City has seen a decline in the number of New Yorkers calling the hotline to share information. Last year, just over 1,000 people called in with tips, Mayor de Blasio said during a press conference Monday.
Tips reported to Crime Stoppers led to 66 arrests and indictments last year and helped solve the high profile rape and murder case of a 92-year-old woman in Queens, according to NYPD Chief of Department Rodney Harrison who joined de Blasio during the press conference. But so far this year fewer than 500 people have rung the hotline and officials are worried.
“We need to bring that backup, we need information, we need help, we need the community to step forward,” de Blasio said. “When you call you do something very important to protect your yourself, your family and fellow New Yorkers.”
Officials were not able to say with complete certainty why the number for the Crime Stopper hotline have decreased but Chief Harrison speculated the dip could have something to do with face masks worn to stop the spread of COVID.
“One of the things we have seen of concern is people are capitalizing on wearing these masks, for protection of course, but they are using them to commit crimes,” Harrison told reporters. “I think that, unfortunately, because people are wearing these masks, it’s been very difficult for New Yorkers to identify individuals.”
A reminder, all calls to 800-577-TIPS are anonymous.