Lancaster CrimeStoppers look for help with funding

LANCASTER, P.A. --- Police say they're close to a record number of submitted tips this year from the city and county CrimeStoppers.

At the current rate of donations, however, the program is about two years away from being insolvent, or unable to pay debts.

Lt. William Hickey with the Lancaster City Police Department is also a liaison with CrimeStoppers.

He said the city-county CrimeStoppers funds have steadily declined since 2007, when the economy took a downturn.

In 2011, their main source of funding, The Kiwanis Club, dissolved.

Hickey said tips continue to go up annually but funds are becoming scarce.

"When you don't see the donations that we've had in the past, it kind of makes it difficult to expand the program," said Hickey.

He also said corporate partners, such as banks and commercial stores, left when the economy turned and haven't come back

Hickey said it would be "beneficial for everybody"  if they come back on board.

"They're benefitting from the public input in helping us catch these criminals and holding them accountable for their actions," said Hickey.

He also said it's in the hands of the board to pay for insurance, the text-tip and 1-800 hotline, and rewards.

He said they have plans to grow the program, such as raising rewards up to $2-3,000 from the up to $1,000 it's been for the last thirty years, but the funds aren't there.

For example, there is currently a reward for up to $1,000 for a successful tip in the December 1992 Christy Mirack cold murder case.

The Lancaster County District Attorney's Office said a quarter of their sixty most recent tips came through CrimeStoppers.

District Attorney Craig Stedman said in 2013, nine violent cases were solved through the anonymous tip hotline.

A tip also helped solve the 2014 murder of Lancaster resident, Nicole Matthewson.

"These are tremendously important cases to the individuals involved, particularly if we have a homicide to help try and solve this," said Stedman.

Stedman said more than $100,000 has been payed out by Lancaster CrimeStoppers since 1987.

He wanted to emphasize that none of that money comes from the police department or city budgets.

"It relies on the goodwill of the community and the businesses that are here because they recognize the foundation of their business flourishing and any community doing well is public safety," said Stedman.

Hickey said Lancaster CrimeStoppers is betting on itself at the upcoming "Extraordinary Give."

He said they invested some of their already scare funds on proper documentation for the event with hopes they would benefit from donations.​

For more information on Lancaster City-County CrimeStoppers, click here.