Last week, state Attorney General Ashley Moody announced she is enlisting convenience store owners from across Florida to help law enforcement solve crime.
At a news conference in Tampa on Thursday, Moody, Florida Petroleum Marketers Association Executive Director Ned Bowman, Florida Association of Crime Stoppers Treasurer and Crime Stoppers Tampa Bay Executive Director Kelly McLaren and Hillsborough County Sheriff Chad Chronister highlighted a new partnership to encourage anonymous crime reporting to the statewide crime reporting tip line **TIPS. Moody also announced a new Florida Crime Stoppers smartphone app that allows tipsters to anonymously submit tips about unsolved crimes.
Stickers with information on the statewide crime-stopping program will be displayed in approximately 7,000 gas stations and convenience stores across the state. **TIPS is the first-of-its-kind statewide phone number that allows individuals to reach the local Crime Stoppers agency from anywhere in Florida.
“Law enforcement cannot fight crime alone,” Moody said. “Everyone has the ability to stop crime and save lives by anonymously reporting information to law enforcement. This is a message we hope to spread throughout Florida through our new partnership with convenience stores who are joining our efforts to help solve crimes. Floridians can report crime using **TIPS or the new Florida Crime Stoppers app. Tipsters can remain anonymous and could receive thousands of dollars for information that leads to an arrest.”
“I would like to thank the Attorney General and her staff for partnering with Florida Petroleum Marketers Association on this Tips program. Any tool that we can use to prevent or assist in criminal activity, our members are here to help,” Bowman said.
Last year, Moody partnered with the Florida Association of Crime Stoppers to create **TIPS, a statewide phone number for the anonymous citizen reporting process. Prior to its formation, the process required users to dial the local Crime Stoppers agency’s number directly. This statewide program now allows citizens to anonymously report crime and collect rewards for tips that lead to an arrest from anywhere in the state. The goal is to encourage even more citizens to help law enforcement solve cases and stop crime.
Now, when a user calls **TIPS from a cellphone, in addition to routing the caller to the local Crime Stoppers line, a smartphone application link will be sent to the phone that enables an individual to download the Florida Crime Stoppers app. This free app is another avenue for individuals to report tips subject to rewards. Similar to any phone call made to Florida Crime Stoppers, any tip sent through the app is reported anonymously.
Earlier this year, Moody announced a near-doubling of award money for anonymous tips in murder cases that lead to an arrest. The increase takes the maximum allowable award amount from $5,000 to $9,500 for anonymous tips provided to FACS that lead to arrests with the goal of increasing community participation in solving murders.