Champaign County Crime Stoppers is reminding the public that the deadline is approaching to nominate outstanding citizens for two of the group’s initiatives: the Dave Benton Crime Fighter Award and the Youth Scholarship Award.
The Benton award is named for the late Dave Benton, a WCIA anchor and Crime Stoppers Board Member. It recognizes a Champaign County resident or organization who has made their community a better place through citizen crime-fighting efforts. Examples include neighborhood groups that promote safety or someone who mentors kids to keep them on the right track.
The deadline to nominate for the Benton award is June 15, 2023. The winner, as chosen by the Crime Stoppers Board, will receive $500, a framed certificate, and their name will be engraved on a plaque of past winners.
Crime Stoppers is also taking applications for its youth scholarship. High school seniors in Champaign County who are planning a career in criminal justice are encouraged to apply. Applicants must provide information about their high school life, extracurriculars, etc. and write a short essay on why they are pursuing a career in criminal justice.
The winner, chosen by the Crime Stoppers Board, will receive $500. The money will go directly into the student’s account at the college or university they are attending. The deadline to apply for the scholarship is June 15, 2023.
“It takes everyone working together to create safe and thriving communities,” said Crime Stoppers President John Hecker. “We want to recognize the people and groups who are doing their part.”
Winners of the Benton award and youth scholarship will be recognized at Crime Stoppers’ annual luncheon in July.
Due to the possibility of poor weather, including high winds, Champaign County Crime Stoppers has postponed Saturday’s (4/22/2023) shred event and drug take back.
“The main concern is documents with sensitive information getting blown away in the wind,” said Crime Stoppers President John Hecker. “We know this is a popular event, and we will work to reschedule as soon as possible.”
Residents can contact their local police department or pharmacy about disposing of medication.
Crime Stoppers will let the community and media know of a reschedule date.
Champaign County Crime Stoppers is teaching young people about crime awareness and prevention through a new digital advertisement featuring Illini basketball players Luke Goode and Ty Rodgers.
The ad is being broadcast on social media platforms including Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube and TikTok and has already reached thousands. Goode and Rodgers were filmed at the Stephen’s Family YMCA in Champaign. The partnership was possible thanks to Illinois’ name, image, and likeness law for college athletes.
“Being a great team means everyone works together,” Rodgers says to lead off the message.
“If you cannot talk to a teacher or the police, Crime Stoppers is anonymous and willing to pay up to $5,000 if your tip leads to an arrest,” Goode says.
The ad concludes with Rodgers telling viewers to download the P3 Tips app to anonymously report a crime and be eligible for a cash reward.
“Young people often have information about things going on in their school or neighborhood but are hesitant to provide information or don’t know how to anonymously,” says Josh Henson, general manager of Adams Outdoor Advertising in Champaign and the Crime Stoppers board member who oversaw creation of the ad. “This video reaches kids and teens where they are with a simple and relatable message.”
Crime Stoppers would like to thank Kam Cox at the University of Illinois Division of Intercollegiate Athletics and Renae Cory at the Stephen’s Family YMCA for their support in making the advertisement.
Crime Stoppers’ efforts to get criminals off the streets continue to receive support from local law enforcement and governing bodies. Since Crime Stoppers introduced its illegal gun bounty reward program in January 2019, anonymous tips have led to 67 arrests, 81 illegal guns recovered, and $86,000 in rewards to tipsters.
In March 2022, Crime Stoppers increased its reward in homicide cases to $5,000. Since then, there have been two such arrests thanks to anonymous tips.
In January 2023 alone, the Crime Stoppers board approved $13,750 in rewards, including five illegal gun bounty rewards of $2,500 each.
Champaign County Crime Stoppers, in partnership with Triad Shredding, will once again offer community members a one-stop opportunity to safely dispose of their personal documents, unwanted prescription drugs, and unused cell phones this spring. This is an important fundraiser for Crime Stoppers, and participant donations will be used to pay out cash rewards for anonymous tips that help solve crimes across Champaign County.
This spring’s event will be held Saturday, April 23, 2022, from 9:00-11:00 a.m. in University of Illinois parking Lot E14. This parking lot is at the corner of First and Kirby in Champaign – just west of the State Farm Center. Participants will enter the lot from First Street and follow the marked path to the collection site. Event workers will be on site to guide you.
Crime Stoppers is asking for a small $10 donation to shred up to two bankers boxes of private documents, including: old income tax records, bank statements, pay stubs, medical records, cancelled checks, legal documents, utility bills, etc. Shredding these types of personal documents is an important way to protect yourself from identity theft and fraud. All documents that are collected will be transported to Triad Shredding’s secure off-site facility for destruction. At our spring 2021 event, Crime Stoppers collected 7,500 pounds of personal documents to be shredded.
Crime Stoppers is also partnering with the DEA to accept and properly dispose of unneeded prescription medications. Proper disposal of unused prescription drugs helps to prevent pill abuse, overdoses, theft, and also helps protect the environment. Participants can drop off prescription pills and patches, which will be securely transported and incinerated. Liquids, needles, and sharps cannot be accepted. The prescription drug drop-off service is provided free of charge. A uniformed police officer will be on site to collect the medications. Crime Stoppers thanks the Champaign Police Department for their continued support with this important collection. During our spring 2021 collection, Crime Stoppers collected 117 pounds of unwanted prescription drugs in just two hours.
Crime Stoppers and Triad Shredding are also offering to recycle unwanted cell phones for an additional $10 donation. Collected phones will be shredded at Triad Shredding’s off-site facility and the components will be responsibly recycled.
For more information about this event, please visit our website at 373tips.com.
Maximum Reward Increased to $5,000
Champaign County Crime Stoppers is announcing a significant increase in the cash rewards paid out for anonymous tips that help solve homicide and felony gun crimes in Champaign County. Crime Stoppers will now pay a $5,000 cash reward for tips that lead to an arrest in a homicide case, and $2,500 for tips leading to an arrest in a felony crime involving a firearm. Crime Stoppers’ previous maximum reward for these types of crimes was $1,000. The ability to raise our rewards is possible thanks to increased donations from the public and a grant from the City of Champaign. The increased rewards go into effect immediately and will be applied to new tips that are approved by the Crime Stoppers Board of Directors starting at their March 31st meeting.
“Champaign County Crime Stoppers wants to continue to be part of the solution and help eliminate the illegal gun crimes that have plagued Champaign County in recent years,” said John Hecker, President of Champaign County Crime Stoppers. “Our maximum reward had been $1,000 since our nonprofit agency was first established 35 years ago. Thanks to a recent increase in fundraising, and a generous grant from the City of Champaign, I’m pleased to share we can now offer larger rewards that we believe will encourage more people to step forward and help solve these senseless, violent crimes.”
A $5,000 cash reward will be paid for a tip that leads to the arrest of a person who committed a homicide anywhere in Champaign County, regardless of whether or not a firearm was used. In addition, tips that qualify for Crime Stoppers’ Illegal Gun Bounty Reward Program will now result in a $2,500 cash reward to the tipster. Illegal Gun Bounty Rewards are paid for any tip that leads to the arrest of an individual who used a gun during the commission of a felony crime in Champaign County. Since 2019, the Illegal Gun Bounty Reward Program has been successful in taking 57 illegal weapons off the streets and the arrest of 47 suspects.
Champaign Mayor Deb Feinen said, “The impact of Crime Stoppers in helping to catch and convict those responsible for gun violence in our community is undisputed. The Champaign City Council’s support for this program continues to enhance the City’s partnership with this impactful program.”
Urbana Police Chief Bryant Seraphin added, “Of my 27 ½ years working at the Urbana Police Department, sixteen of those years were spent in the investigations division. Many times, a Crime Stoppers tip was the catalyst to get a case moving forward. I can’t imagine not having a local Crime Stoppers program, and any effort to build on to the program will be a positive use of resources.”
Crime Stoppers accepts anonymous tips from the public by phone (217-373-TIPS), web (373tips.com), and through the free P3 Tips mobile app. Tips are accepted for any criminal activity, whether a homicide, gun crime, "Crime of the Week", wanted fugitive, or any other crime or potential crime the tipster has information about. Learn more about Champaign County Crime Stoppers at 373tips.com.
Board Member Kris Fitzpatrick (L) and scholarship winner Jacke Pranada (R)
Champaign County Crime Stoppers is pleased to announce that Jackie Pranada is the 2021 recipient of our organization’s Criminal Justice Scholarship. Ms. Pranada was awarded the $500 scholarship to further her
education at Parkland College where she will pursue a career in criminal justice.
Champaign County Crime Stoppers, in association with the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and Triad Shredding, will once again offer community members a one-stop opportunity to safely dispose of their personal documents, unwanted prescription drugs, and unused cell phones. This is an important fundraiser for Crime Stoppers, and participant donations will be used so we can continue to pay out cash rewards for anonymous tips that help solve crimes across Champaign County.
This fall’s event will be held Saturday, October 23, 2021, from 9-11 a.m. in University of Illinois parking Lot E14. This parking lot is at the corner of First and Kirby in Champaign – just west of the State Farm Center. Participants need to enter the lot from First Street and follow the marked path to the collection site. Event workers will be on site to guide you.
Crime Stoppers is asking for a small $10 donation to shred u
p to two bankers boxes of private documents, including: old income tax records, bank statements, pay stubs, medical records, cancelled checks, legal documents, utility bills, etc. Shredding these types of personal documents is an important way to protect yourself from identity theft and fraud. All documents that are collected will be transported to Triad Shredding’s secure off-site facility for destruction. In April 2021, Crime Stoppers collected 7,500 pounds of personal documents to be shredded.
Crime Stoppers is also partnering with the DEA for National Prescription Drug Take Back Day on October 23. This part of our event offers participants an easy way to properly dispose of unneeded prescription medications. Proper disposal of unused prescription drugs helps to prevent pill abuse, overdoses, theft, and also helps protect the environment. Participants can drop off prescription pills and patches which will be securely transported and incinerated. Liquids, needles, and sharps cannot be accepted. The prescription drug drop-off service is provided free of charge. A uniformed police officer will be on site to collect the medications. Crime Stoppers thanks the Champaign Police Department for their continued support with this important collection. During its April 2021 collection event, Crime Stoppers collected 117 pounds of unwanted prescription drugs in just two hours.
Crime Stoppers and Triad Shredding are also offering to recycle unwanted cell phones for an additional $10 donation. Collected phones will be shredded at Triad Shredding’s off-site facility and the components will be responsibly recycled.
Crime Stoppers will
follow public health guidelines to minimize contact between the public and event organizers while the pandemic continues. For the health and safety of everyone, event workers and public participants must wear face masks at the event site. Participants may choose to exit their vehicles and place materials to dispose of on a table or they may allow masked event workers to remove their materials from vehicle trunks or truck beds.
For more information about this event, please visit our website at 373tips.com.. For a list or record retention guidelines, visit bit.ly/RecordsGuidelines.
Gunshots ring out in the night. A mother cries uncontrollably over her child’s body. Police investigate, knocking on doors, asking people what they saw, seeking justice for a grieving family. But all too often witnesses won’t share what they know, leaving criminals free to walk the streets and heartbroken families searching for answers.
In his April 14 article titled “There’s a reason not to snitch,” News-Gazette columnist Jay Simpson seemingly offers that staying quiet is justifiable, saying, “If a situation has nothing to do with you, then you don’t even bother getting involved, even if you saw what happened.” Simpson explains that “snitching” is unacceptable in some communities and can have negative consequences for those caught sharing information with police. We don’t doubt that retaliation can be a real concern for those seen talking with law enforcement. But there are ways for witnesses to step up and do the right thing without putting themselves in any type of jeopardy. For 35 years Champaign County Crime Stoppers has provided simple and anonymous ways for people to share information about criminal activity in Champaign County.
We counter Jay Simpson’s premise by suggesting that the notion of “not snitching” be reserved for lesser situations like who scratched dad’s car and not used to protect a criminal who shoots another human being just because they posted something they didn’t like on social media or were otherwise disrespected. For those who understand that to truly be part of a community we all have to watch out for and protect one another from those who seek to harm our community, Crime Stoppers could be the solution.
We realize that many may be unsure of how Crime Stoppers works, or mistakenly believe that Crime Stoppers is a unit of law enforcement. We’d like to address those misconceptions and explain the great lengths that our local nonprofit, all-volunteer group takes to ensure that anyone providing information to Crime Stoppers is always 100 percent, guaranteed to be kept anonymous.
Since 1986, Champaign County Crime Stoppers has filled an important role as an easy way for residents to share information about criminal activity in their community while assuring the tipster is never identified. Crime Stoppers provides several convenient ways for community members to share information about crimes in Champaign County without any fear of reprisals or retaliation. Crime tips can be provided via our phone line (217-373-TIPS), our website (373tips.com), or through our free “P3 Tips” mobile app. Crime Stoppers will never ask for a tipster’s name, our phone lines are not recorded, we don’t use caller ID, and we pay significant fees for various technologies that strip and eliminate every trace of data associated with a phone call or computer IP address. There is absolutely no way for a tipster’s identity to ever be known…by anyone…ever.
We also recognize that in some cases a monetary reward can incentivize people to step forward and share information. Crime Stoppers has always offered cash rewards of up to $1,000 for information that leads to the arrest of individuals involved in criminal activity in Champaign County. In early 2019, recognizing an alarming rise in gun-related crime locally, we launched a new program to incentivize people to share information about gun-related crimes. Now in its third year, the Illegal Gun Bounty Reward Program guarantees our maximum $1,000 cash reward for an anonymous tip that leads to the arrest of a person who used a gun during the commission of a felony crime in Champaign County. In just over two years, the Illegal Gun Bounty Reward Program awarded $24,000 in cash rewards for anonymous tips that resulted in the arrest of 26 individuals charged with gun-related felony crimes and the removal of 32 illegal firearms off our streets. Because of the ongoing success of the program, and thanks to funding support from the Champaign County Community Coalition and the City of Champaign, we’re able to continue providing the program as an incentive to share information about gun-related crimes that continue to harm our sense of community.
It’s no secret that gun violence both nationally and in Champaign County has risen at an alarming rate. Far too many members of our community, including innocent victims caught in the crossfire, have been killed or injured in these senseless shootings. Law enforcement, elected officials, and community leaders repeatedly ask for the public’s help to solve these crimes. But when witnesses don’t come forward to share what they know, whether directly to law enforcement or anonymously through Crime Stoppers, they’re letting down and hurting the very community we all know and love. Champaign County is an amazing place to live, work, visit, and raise a family. But we have to put the notion of “not snitching” behind us and realize the importance of what it means to be a community, to provide grieving families justice, and to hold those who choose to hurt our community accountable for their actions.
Crime Stoppers of Champaign County, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), along with Triad Shredding of Rantoul are offering community members another one-stop opportunity to securely shred old personal documents, safely dispose of unneeded prescription drugs, and responsibly recycle old cell phones. In compliance with public health requirements during the COVID-19 pandemic, all three services will be conducted with “no contact” between the public and the event organizers.
SATURDAY, APRIL 24, 2021 - 9 TO 11 A.M.
UNIVERSITY OF ILLINOIS LOT E14 AT THE CORNER OF FIRST AND KIRBY IN CHAMPAIGN - across from the State Farm Center
DRIVERS ENTER FROM FIRST ST. AND WILL BE DIRECTED TO THE DROP-OFF AREA
In order to maintain the public health “no contact” standards, the following safety procedures will be in place:
Crime Stoppers is asking for a small donation of $10 to help pay future rewards to tipsters who help solve crimes. Up to two bankers' boxes of private documents will be accepted, which includes old income tax records, bank statements, pay stubs, medical records, cancelled checks, legal documents, utility bills, etc. Please note that shredding is not done at the collection site. Documents will be taken to Triad Shredding’s secure facility for shredding.
At the same event, the DEA is offering an easy way to prevent pill abuse and theft through the National Drug Drop Off Day. People can bring their pills and patches to be incinerated at an off-site location. We cannot accept liquids, needles, or sharps at this event. The prescription drug drop-off service is free and anonymous, no questions asked.
Triad Shredding will also offer to shred old, unwanted cellphones for proper recycling.
For more information about this event visit our website at 373tips.com.
Champaign County Crime Stoppers is accepting applications for its annual $500 Youth Scholarship Award. Applications are available to any high school senior within Champaign County who will be furthering their education and entering the field of Criminal Justice.
“The local Board of Directors overwhelmingly agreed to go ahead with the award this year, although Covid-19 has disrupted so many of the school routine and procedures,” said Barbara Payne, Crime Stoppers Scholarship Committee Chair. “We rely heavily on the school officials and counselors to get information to students who have an interest in a criminal justice career.”
The application requires an essay on why the applicant wants to pursue a career in criminal justice. Community service and school activities also weigh heavily on the application. Two reference letters are required to attest to the applicant’s character. Once received, the Champaign County Crime Stoppers Youth Scholarship Committee will select the successful recipient from those completed and submitted applications. Applications must be received by May 20, 2021. Once the decision is made, the successful candidate and their high school will be notified by June 1, 2021.
“It is important that we continue to offer this award to a deserving individual, despite the COVID-19 limitations,” said Kris Fitzpatrick. Fitzpatrick who is a member of the Scholarship Committee and donor for the program is a 34-year veteran of law enforcement.
For more information on the Youth Scholarship and to download the application click HERE.
Crime Stoppers of Champaign County is extremely proud to announce Board President John Hecker has been named as the recipient of the Freddi Moody Memorial P3 Board Member of the Year Award during the Crime Stoppers USA Annual Training Conference held in Tempe, Arizona. Anderson Software, which provides products to Crime Stoppers programs to receive anonymous tips, announced Hecker as this year’s recipient Sunday evening.
Hecker was nominated by Vice President of the local Crime Stoppers Board, Dawn Coyne Trimble; and by past police coordinator for the local board, Troy Daniels, who retired from the Champaign Police Department. Both Trimble and Daniels sit on the Crime Stoppers USA board.
Hecker was the founding President of Crime Stoppers of Champaign County 33 years ago on March 7, 1986, and continues to serve in that position currently. In their nomination letter, Coyne and Daniels said Hecker is believed to be the longest serving board president of a local organization in the Crime Stoppers family worldwide.
They also described Hecker as a relentless supporter of the program who has embraced the latest advances in technology as ways to make it easier for citizens to provide information about crimes anonymously. “An example of this would be John’s unwavering support of implementing Anderson Software products that receive tips, such as Tipsoft and P3,” they said. They also pointed out Hecker’s support of the successful local Gun Bounty program, aimed at reducing gun violence in the community. The program guarantees a $1,000 reward for tips that lead to a felony gun arrest. (nomination letter attached)
Crime Stoppers of Champaign County has used the Anderson Software product “P3 Tips mobile app” for several years to provide a free method for cellphone users to submit information anonymously. In addition to text information, the app allows images, video and documents to be uploaded with the tip.
In addition to the free P3 Tips mobile app , Crime Stoppers of Champaign County also accepts tips at our Tips Line 373-TIPS, and at our website www.373tips.com. No matter how information is submitted to Crime Stoppers, the tipster always remains anonymous.
Crime Stoppers of Champaign County today announced the winner of the Fifth Annual Dave Benton Crime Fighter of the Year Award at the organization’s Annual Meeting held at The Elks Lodge in Savoy. Also, the recipient of the Crime Stoppers Youth Scholarship Scholarship was announced.
The winner of this year’s Dave Benton Crime Fighter of the Year Award is the West Urbana Neighborhood Association (WUNA). In nominating the group, WUNA member Kay Grabow said, “I believe that those of us who live in West Urbana are safer because of the feeling of community created by the West Urbana Neighborhood Association, and especially by the connection through the WUNA List Serve.”
She also said, “By keeping neighbors connected and interested in each other, the List Serve provides many sets of eyes and ears that help law enforcement agencies.” She provided examples that include alerting residents about someone who may be stealing packages from front porches. Also, watching for missing pets which makes the job of animal control easier.
“Knowing our neighbors at some level and caring for their well-being are great positive ways to fight crime. The West Urbana Neighborhood Association serves us well,” Grabow concluded.
Grabow, steering committee member Trent Shepard, and Co-Treasurer Anne H. Silvis attended the Crime Stoppers Annual Meeting to accept the Dave Benton Award, which is sponsored by Barb and Tom Frasca.
The winner of the annual $500 Crime Stoppers Youth Scholarship is Tolono Unity High School graduate Abigail Charleston, who will attend Parkland College in Champaign to study Criminal Justice.
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