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State Budget Woes Jeopardizing Crimestoppers Program

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DURHAM, N.C. — The idea behind


is pretty simple -- help solve a crime and get a reward, but a tight budget in one Triangle town is jeopardizing the reward program.

Two years ago, 95-year-old Bob Carson was found stabbed to death. A short time later, police caught his killer. It is one of more than 3,000 crimes solved with the help of Crimestoppers since the program started in Durham in the early 1980s.

"We've solved 106 homicides, eight rapes, 296 armed robberies, 71 aggravated assaults, 445 burglaries," said Detective Tim Leathers, of the Durham Police Department.

Crimestoppers depends on people in the community to call in tips. Leathers said the motivation for calling varies.

"(For) a lot of them, actually, it's all money. A lot of them just want to help the community," he said.

However, that money is drying up. A civilian board runs Crimestoppers and depends on private donations and city grants. This year because of budget cuts, the city scaled back its contribution.

"That's the biggest challenge we have is raising money," said Pat Ellis, Crimestoppers chairman. "If the crime rate is to go down, it means we're spending more money, so we need funds to pay the tipsters."

Since 1983, Durham's program has paid out nearly $400,000.

"It cleans up the community. It gets the bad guys out of the community," Leathers said.

Tips from Crimestoppers have added up to a 92 percent conviction rate. If anyone is interested in donating money to the program, he or she can call the Durham Police Department at

(919) 560-4209