Pandemic didn't keep Crime Stoppers from having another banner year

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Chatham-Kent Crime Stoppers wrapped up 2020 with another banner year, despite the ongoing pandemic.

Noting there were 75 to 80 fewer calls than normal, outgoing co-ordinator Chatham-Kent police Const. David Bakker said the service “seemed to be pretty consistent.”

Statistics from local Crime Stoppers showed the 702 calls received last year resulted in 53 arrests and 122 charges laid, along with 120 cases being cleared.

Bakker said the $158,400 in recovered property was up a little from the year before.

The value of drugs seized is one area where the Crime Stoppers program consistently excels and that was the case again in 2020, with $10,083,606 worth of drugs confiscated.

“We received several tips regarding illegal marijuana grows and that helped boost the numbers,” Bakker said.

That included tips about a large amount of pot found at a greenhouse on Maynard Line, south of Chatham, last September, he added. Police reported seizing more than $7.3 million worth marijuana from the property.

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Bakker said police and Crime Stoppers don’t have any use for information about people who are legally growing marijuana, adding people are allowed to grow up to four plants for personal use.

He said police are still concerned about the large amounts of marijuana being illegally grown because it often involves criminal enterprises that use the profits to fund other illegal activities, such as human trafficking or the production of harder drugs like methamphetamine.

Crime Stoppers still fields telephone calls, but Bakker said there’s been a steady increase of tips coming in online over the past five yearsthrough the organization’s website,www.crime-stoppers.on.ca.

“I was surprised when we first started using it how popular it was,” Bakker said.

He said the secure, anonymous system allows Crime Stoppers to send back questions regarding a tip that can lead to better information.

Coming into 2021, Bakker said board members are looking forward to getting past the pandemic, so they can get back out and promote Crime Stoppers in the community and do some fundraising.

“We lost our fundraisers in 2020 and we’d like to get back to doing some of that because that’s how we pay for our program,” he said.

Also new this year is the move to a civilian co-ordinator for Crime Stoppers for the first time since the program began locally in 1987.

Bakker, who will be donning his uniform to head back out on the road, said he’s going to miss his day-to-day work with Crime Stoppers.

“I’ve always maintained it’s the best job I’ve ever had on a police service,” he said.

Bakker said he has enjoyed the opportunity to get out into the community to promote a program that works well.

eshreve@postmedia.com