JACKSON COUNTY, MS (WLOX) - It’s said all the time in WLOX newscasts: If you know anything about a crime, call Crime Stoppers and leave an anonymous tip.
However, is it truly anonymous?
When someone picks up the phone and dials the number for Mississippi Coast Crime Stoppers, who’s on the other end of the line?
Program Coordinator Lori Massey said it’s actually a complete stranger at a call center in Texas, who never asks for any identifying information and the caller ID is always blocked.
“I’m not sure that people really don’t believe Crime Stoppers really is anonymous, but it is. We have no idea who the caller is,” Massey said. “We just want your information, not your name.”
Capt. Randy Muffley with the Jackson County Sheriff’s Office said the department receives tips every day through Crime Stoppers. However, he added, deputies never talk directly to the tipster, and they don’t get even the smallest clue as to who the tipster could be.
“Some people, they want to get involved, but then they may not want folks to know who they are, so this gives them an avenue to report crimes they see without fear of repercussions of who they’re telling on," Muffley said.
What about tips submitted online or through the Crime Stoppers app? Are they just as anonymous?
WLOX’s Desirae Duncan tested it out by sending a test tip during her interview with Muffley. Within a few minutes, Crime Stoppers forwarded the tip to him, which didn’t add any additional information to identify her as the tipster.
“What about being able to track it back to the phone?” our reporter asked.
“Like I said, we don’t even get nothing here. They come straight from Crime Stoppers," Muffley said. “It doesn’t go in our case file. They don’t get subpoened for court."
Massey said with Crime Stoppers, there’s no excuse for silence.
“You’re making your community safer because there’s a perpetrator out there committing violent crimes in your community. Your family could be next," she said.
“They live here, also. They should want to care. They should want to let us know when things are going on," Muffley said.
If you have any information about any crime, no matter how big or small the tip, you can call Crime Stoppers at 877-787-5898 or download the free app by searching for “P3 Tips” in your app store.