Crime Stoppers help police maintain community safety


Photo Illustration: Kelsey Kremer/Iowa State Daily

Story County residents will be able to anonymously report crimes using a 24-hour tip line once the Crime Stoppers of Story County is established. Crime Stoppers is a nonprofit organization that allows citizens to aid in the resolution of unsolved crimes.

Kaitlin York

Each county in the United States has its own way of preventing, resolving and stopping criminal activity. Some counties prefer the standard local police and sheriff stations, while others might have communities that want to get involved and help keep their neighborhoods safe.

Story County has volunteers that want to get involved.

Ames Police, ISU Police, Huxley Police, Story City Police, Nevada Police and the Story County Sheriff’s Office have opened up to the idea of letting the county’s citizens participate in Crime Stoppers, a program whose intentions are to aid in the resolution of a crime.

“Having a Crime Stoppers community has been brought up several times in the last five or six years, but the idea has never rolled,” said Craig Grandgenett, vice chairman for the Crime Stoppers in Story County. “So we stepped out and said that we need individuals who want to help to get the program started.”

Rick Sanders serves as the chairman for the Crime Stoppers in Story County. He received a call from the chief deputy at the Story County Sheriff’s Office two years ago.

“He called me and said that a group of citizens were wanting to get together and join the program,” Sanders said. “We all love our community; he knew how involved I already am, and we want things to be safe and have the option available for those who want to share information about a crime but don’t want or know how to get involved.”

Crime Stoppers is based on the principle that someone other than the criminal has information that can help solve a crime, according to The program was created to combat the three major problems faced by law enforcement:

  • Fear of reprisal
  • An attitude of apathy
  • Reluctance to get involved

Other places in Iowa with a Crime Stoppers program are the greater Burlington area, Webster County, the Iowa City area, Clay County and Polk County, according to

The latest Iowa Department of Public Safety Crime Report says Iowa had an average of 2,888,596 people in 2009. There were 76,321 reports of crime including murder, rape, robbery, aggravated assault, burglary, larceny and motor vehicle theft.

There is a high probability that many of the reports were unsolved due to not enough information gathered or because witnesses and friends were too afraid to get involved.

“There is not a certain amount of crime needed in order for a county to have a Crime Stoppers community,” Sanders said. “We are a part of a service that receives tips and information, anonymously, that law enforcement does not have in order to turn in the bad guys.”

As the chairman for Crime Stoppers in Story County, Sanders runs the meetings on the first Wednesday of every month. When Sanders is unable to attend, Grandgenett takes over.

Grandgenett and his family have lived in Ames for 11 years and is involved in many activities around Story County. He believes the community is a good place to live and affords citizens many opportunities.

“I like most that we can help,” Grandgerett said. “Citizens are using independent funds just to help out at least a little bit. If we can be of an assistance as a citizen, then we want to be.”

There are money rewards up to $1,000 that the tip submitter can receive when his or her crime tip is useful.

“Upon submitting your tip, you will receive a ‘code’ that becomes your identity so that everyone can remain anonymous,” Sanders said. “If your tip was useful, you will be notified that you can receive your cash reward.”

Crime Stoppers USA is a nonprofit organization that is run by people that love their community and are against crime.

“Funding comes from the members donating their money, raising money from the public and sending letters to local businesses explaining what we do,” Sanders said. “We’re hosting a big fundraiser this summer.”

Deputy Rob Bowers, ISU Police, has been working with the Crime Stoppers program since last year when he was notified that a private group was interested in reaching out to help.

“I think it is a great program to get information that us officers might otherwise not get. It is very community-driven; put together and managed by the community and driven for community safety,” Bowers said.

The program is at its very beginning stages of what is hoped to be a well-organized project. Sanders said a tip-line phone number needs to be set up, a website needs to be designed and advertising needs to be done.

“We are going to publicize by hanging signs in windows and make various gadgets that will let people know that if they know of something that is happening and isn’t supposed to, there is a place you can anonymously tell about it,” Sanders said.

Other members of the board are Angie Hunt, Shelley McQueen and Barry Thomas.

If you are looking to get involved with the Story County community to lead against crime, you can contact the board at [email protected].