Police seek crime tips via text messages

City law enforcement joins sheriff, state police in utilizing anonymous information

By Ryan Quinn, Published:

Frankfort Crime Stoppers began accepting anonymous tips via text messages Thursday, joining other local law enforcement agencies in using texts to combat crime.

“With the popularity of texting in this day and age we thought it would be a great venue for increasing information,” said Maj. Fred Deaton of the Frankfort Police.

To submit an anonymous tip, type FCS followed by your message and send it to 274637 (CRIMES). Message and data rates may apply.

Crime Stoppers pays cash rewards of up to $1,000 for information on Frankfort and Franklin County crimes leading to an arrest.

The introduction of Frankfort Crime Stoppers’ text-a-tip comes after the Franklin County Sheriff’s Office and Kentucky State Police instituted their own anonymous texting programs. Deaton said different law enforcement agencies regularly share tips.

Franklin County Sheriff Pat Melton said his agency’s text-a-tip system began in February or March of 2011. Since then, Melton said he has received hundreds of tips.

“It’s been huge,” Melton said. He said texts provided him information on robberies, burglaries, drug deals and most-wanted suspects. He said he got a text Wednesday night on a suspect in Tallahassee, Fla., with three Franklin County warrants and two Anderson County warrants, one of which is a $10,000 bond.

Melton said all the texts go to a cellphone at his agency and remain anonymous. To anonymously text the sheriff’s office, text 502-320-3306.

KSP started its text-a-tip system in October. In a release, KSP spokesman Sgt. Rick Saint-Blancard said people who live in high-crime areas are often afraid of being overheard talking to police.

“So when they have this option of texting us – knowing no one will know who they are – they are more willing to provide specific details and names about the activity,” Saint-Blancard said.

Texts to KSP are sent to a separate, third-party sever where identifying information is stripped before the texts are sent to police with an encrypted alias. To anonymously text KSP, type KSPTIP and then your message, and send it to 67283. You will receive an instant confirmation if your tip went through successfully.

Frankfort Crime Stoppers’ text-a-tip system is from TipSoft, the company that already processes the online anonymous tips submitted to Crime Stoppers’ website. It wipes all identifiable information from texted tips.

“So their anonymity is guaranteed,” Deaton said.

Texts to Crime Stoppers are assigned unique aliases by the system so tipsters can be rewarded if their information leads to an arrest.

Deaton said the police department had recently become aware of TipSoft’s text-a-tip service and brought it before Crime Stoppers’ Board of Directors. The board voted to approve using the service on Oct. 23.

Deaton said that eight or nine anonymous Crime Stoppers tipsters this year have been rewarded after their information led to arrests.

Tipsters can also provide anonymous information to Crime Stoppers by calling 875-8648 or visiting www.frankfortcrimestoppers.com.

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