Crime Stoppers SA uses 25-year milestone in SA to thank the community
Posted on 08/07/2021
South Australia may have experienced a great deal of change over the last quarter of a century, but one thing that has remained constant is the way that Crime Stoppers empowers people to share what they know about unsolved crimes and suspicious activities without the need to say who they are or get involved.
And while police now have advanced DNA technology, facial recognition software and a range of other modern-day investigative tools to use, Crime Stoppers has secured its reputation as a proven way for people to help bring criminals to justice.
Crime Stoppers South Australia chair, Ms Sharon Hanlon, said since Crime Stoppers first started in the State on 8 July 1996, information provided by the public has helped to catch more than 22,400 criminals and solve almost 35,000 crimes, including some of the state’s largest and most heinous cases.
“Time and again we see how even the smallest piece of information can make a big difference and we continue to be humbled at the community response every time we put a call out for information,” Ms Hanlon said.
“Crime Stoppers believes everyone has the right to feel safe from crime, which is why we also develop and deliver a range of crime prevention initiatives and share practical advice on how you can protect your community, and the people and things that are important to you,” she said.
“Underpinning our success is how you don’t have to leave your personal details with us, calls are not recorded and IP addresses aren’t stored when using our website to submit a tip. An individual is in control of the contact process and chooses what information they share and whether they want to remain anonymous.”
“Our results are among the nation’s best, with an average of 25 crimes solved each and every week thanks to the community – which is why our many successes over 25 years should be celebrated by all South Australians, because a safer SA results from a team effort.”
Since Crime Stoppers first started in South Australia in 1996 about half a million tips are estimated to have been received from the community, with every second contact to Crime Stoppers SA now relating to illicit drug activity.
Police Minister Vincent Tarzia MP said: “The evidence has been tried, tested and is indisputable – Crime Stoppers SA helps keep South Australians safe and secure.”
“Nasty criminals are behind bars because of information supplied to Crime Stoppers SA by the public. SAPOL has been supported with reliable tip-offs that have made a huge difference over the last 25 years. It was a no-brainer for the Marshall Liberal Government to stand behind the crime-fighting charity and become the first South Australian Government to directly fund Crime Stoppers SA.”
“We thank Crime Stoppers SA for all its hard work and offer our congratulations on this special 25-year milestone. And crooks beware – you could be next.”
The vast majority of cases cracked by police can never be acknowledged as being solved thanks to information provided to Crime Stoppers from the community because it would jeopardise the tipster’s identify, but notable cases solved by police that can be discussed includes:
• Murder of Jason De Ieso in 2012, with a steady stream of information provided by the community help to achieve a major breakthrough when police arrested and charged a number of people over the alleged murder in 2019.
• Murder of 81-year old Robert Whitwell in 2016, at his Craigmore home. At 8.55pm on 22 August 2017, an anonymous phone call was made to Crime Stoppers nominating two people for the death. They were arrested four days later and charged with murder.
• Murder of Beverley Hanley at her Elizabeth North home on Wednesday 6 October 2010. Since the murder there have been more than 120 calls to Crime Stoppers with information, with those calls able to “corroborate” previous information received by investigators. In 2019 a 44-year old Victorian man was arrested and charged with the murder.
• Murder of Martin Meffert in 2005 and recovery of his partial remains in 2013. To encourage people to come forward with information a poster and digital assets were developed in September 2017. A number of calls were received by Crime Stoppers, with a 31-year old relative of the victim now serving life in prison for the murder.
• Murders of Karlie Pearce-Stevenson and Khandalyce Pearce – 2015. Following the discovery of remains of a young girl in a suitcase alongside a Murray Mallee highway in 2015, Crime Stoppers SA received an unprecedented number of calls. It was ultimately two critical calls that led to the identification of the young girl, Khandalyce Pearce. The discovery linked the girl to her mother, Karlie Pearce-Stevenson, whose body was found in Belanglo State Forest in New South Wales in 2010. A man known to the pair plead guilty to the murders and is now serving two life sentences.
• Murder of Carolyn Mathews in 2001 at her West Lakes Shore home. Shortly after the murder, a caller rang Crime Stoppers and provided information about the identity of the person hired to kill the mother of two and nominated her husband as the person who hired the hitman. Carolyn’s husband and his girlfriend were found guilty of murder and were sentenced to life imprisonment with a non-parole period of 30 years; the longest period for a single murder in SA legal history. The hitman, who pleaded guilty to the murder and gave evidence against his co-accused, was sentenced to life imprisonment with a 20-year non-parole period.
• Murders of Megumi Suzuki in 1991 and Maya Jakic in 2001. A recording of an anonymous phone call made to 000 about the Maya Jakic murder was posted on the Crime Stoppers website in October 2001, and within a week a person made contact and identified the voice on the recording as that of a man on remand for rape who had a criminal history for sex offences. The man pleaded guilty to the two murders and was sentenced to life imprisonment with no non-parole period set.
If you have any information about criminals or criminal activity, then call Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000 or go to www.crimestopperssa.com.au
About Crime Stoppers SA
Crime Stoppers began in South Australia in 1996 and since then has played a critical role in encouraging people to come forward with information that helps to solve crimes and educate on topics such as property and personal safety, vehicle theft, and cyber safety. The program encourages people to be alert and engaged participants in their community and provides a secure way for information about illegal activity and unsolved crimes to be passed to police through an independent toll-free hotline and a website that guarantees anonymity with the option of a reward. Crime Stoppers SA works with police, the media and the public to solve, reduce and prevent crime.
More about Crime Stoppers SA can be found at https://crimestopperssa.com.au
Crime Stoppers originated in Albuquerque, New Mexico, USA in 1976 in an effort to solve a brutal murder case. In July 1976, a young man was working at a petrol station in a small town. During a night shift, two men robbed the station and the man was viciously shot and killed. This was the culmination of a series of robberies against petrol stations in the area.
A local detective, Greg MacAleese, believed local people had committed the crimes and someone in the community could have information. However, people were not willing to talk to the police and after six weeks, there were still no leads. In a final act of desperation, the detective approached a local TV network, requesting a TV reconstruction of the event. The re-enactment offered informants total anonymity and a cash reward of $1000, for information leading to the arrest of the offenders.
Within 72 hours of the program going to air, a person called with some information regarding a car speeding away from the scene, which ultimately became the missing link in the case, leading to the arrest of the offenders. An unexpected bonus emerged from this tragic event, enabling the community to assist in solving a variety of crimes through the use of an anonymous ‘tips line’. Crime Stoppers was initiated from this point and continues today.
There is a Crime Stoppers program active in all States and Territories across Australia. Crime Stoppers Australia is a member of Crime Stoppers International (CSI), which now operates in more than 28 countries via 1200 programs and has partnership with Interpol and United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC).
An independently prepared Community Impact Report shows 82% of all Australians feel safer knowing Crime Stoppers is in place across the country. The research also found that 81% of Australians believe the option to not say who they when contacting Crime Stoppers is incredibly important.
The economic value of Crime Stoppers to Australia is estimated as $170m, with an additional $66m in added value from drugs being seized, property returned, and crimes being prevented.