Anonymous tips to Cayman Crime Stoppers aren’t just for reporting criminals anymore.
You can report the location of guns and drugs as well, according to managers with the tip line service.
Police Commissioner David Baines suggested reporting weapons to a group of West Bay residents who gathered recently at John Cumber Primary School to discuss issues of crime and public safety with members of the Royal Cayman Islands Police Service.
The ability to report the location of weapons or drugs has been available to crime stoppers callers for some time, but group chairman Eric Bush said that may not be well known to the community.
“Actually, it has happened within the past three months and a firearm was recovered,” Mr. Bush said, referring an anonymous tip call to the Cayman Crime Stoppers secure 800-8477 phone line in Florida.
The caller to that tip line is given a code number which they can use to call back and check on whether their information led to any findings. A reward of up to $1,000 is available if the information pans out.
Callers are never asked to give their names, and steps are taken to protect tipsters from other possible means of identification.
“If they find (the weapon), police report that success back to the law enforcement coordinator who uploads the result in the Crime Stoppers programme,” Mr. Bush said.
“The caller, if they wanted to call back for the reward, they would call back and say ‘my code number is 1234, am I eligible for a reward?’ and the operator in Miami would see that the tip led to a success.”
The Cayman Crime Stoppers Board of Directors has the final say on whether rewards are issued.
There are limits to how the Crime Stoppers tips can be used in regard to finding weapons.
Anonymous calls alone cannot be used as evidence in court or for police to raid someone’s house.
However, if the tip area is a public place, such as a beach or bush land, police can go and search it.
“If it is something (located in a home), they would require a search warrant,” Mr. Bush said. “They would have to satisfy those requirements of either the justice of the peace or magistrates or the judge.”
Commissioner Baines has made removing illegal firearms from Cayman’s streets a top priority. Earlier this year 26 weapons – including shotguns and handguns – were seized as part of a gun amnesty programme.
The month-long amnesty led to the surrender of other weapons or imitation weapons, including rifles, flare guns, bows and arrows, a crossbow, a taser, detonators and a grenade.
Some 233 rounds of ammunition were also given up by the public.
“The figures speak for themselves,” said Commissioner Baines.
“These weapons, and the ammunition, surrendered as part of the amnesty could, if they got into the wrong hands, kill. Let’s be in no doubt about that.
Twenty-six guns taken off the streets could effectively equate to a minimum of 26 lives saved.”
Police and Crime Stoppers are offering a $5,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and subsequent conviction of anyone who holds an illegal or unlicensed weapon, or who is involved in gun crime.