Suffolk County Crime Stoppers. You’ve likely seen them on News 12 or heard their message on the radio, but do you know how they operate? How they bridge the gap between the community and law enforcement? Most importantly, do you know how to get in touch with them to provide a tip that could help solve a crime?
Recently, Pat Fazio, President of Suffolk County Crime Stoppers joined us on The Mike LiPetri Show to discuss their ongoing efforts and provide some pertinent information about ongoing investigations and how you can help solve these crimes.
First, some facts. Suffolk County Crime Stoppers is not funded by any government agency or the Suffolk County Police Department. They are a privately funded independent non-profit organization founded in 1994 that, very simply, provides cash rewards for 100% anonymous tips that lead to an arrest.
Pat Fazio, a former NYC Police Officer, was asked to join Suffolk County Crime Stoppers in 2015 due to his love for the community and his strong reputation as a powerful fundraiser. Under his leadership, Crime Stoppers has really increased their public profile and after implementing some successful fundraising efforts, the organization continues to gain traction and expand their efforts.
So, how does it work exactly? If you witnessed a crime or have information relating to criminal action, you are strongly encouraged to get in touch with Suffolk County Crime Stoppers. A common misconception many people have is that their tip isn’t important enough or won’t make a difference. This couldn’t be further from the truth. As Pat Fazio puts it, “even the most miniscule piece of information could be monumental to investigators.”
Once they receive and process your tip, Crime Stoppers will share it with the appropriate law enforcement agencies and investigators where it can either enhance an open investigation or lead to the opening of a brand-new case.
But, is it truly anonymous? When you call 1-800-220-TIPS to report your information they do not ask you any personal information whatsoever. They will gather the information you provide and give you a code or reference number. Later, should there be an arrest in the case, you call up Crime Stoppers, provide your code number, and receive your reward. It’s that simple.
Another important point here is that no crime is too small. From neighborhood kids breaking down fences to homicides, a crime is a crime, and your tip can help solve it. There is even a dedicated phone line just for drug related criminal activity – 631-852-NARC. During the height of the heroin and opioid crisis on Long Island, thousands of tips came through this line – many of which not only helped solve crime but saved countless lives in the process.
In many cases, the award is normally up to $5,000 depending on the circumstances of the specific case. But in high profile cases, awards can be up to $50,000 like the one currently offered for information leading to an arrest in the Gilgo Beach murders. At this time, alleged killer, Rex Heuermann, has only been indicted relating to three of the victims but there were other victims found whose cases remain open and unsolved.
Right now, one case Pat Fazio reminded us about is the unsolved murder of Suffolk County Police Detective Dennis Wustenhoff who was killed by a car bomb in 1990. There was never an arrest in this case. The Federal Bureau of Investigation has recently agreed to take a fresh look and review the evidence in the case. Suffolk County Crime Stoppers has a sizeable reward for any information that leads to an arrest in this case.
There is no denying it. Crime Stoppers works. It is a great partner for both the community and law enforcement. Pat Fazio said it best, “when investigators get that one tip that leads to an arrest it’s a game changer, its huge, if you see something, say something, make the call – it works.”