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Crime Stoppers: 40 years and going strong

HUNTSVILLE — Helped solve 21,000 cases.

Led to the arrest of more than 4,000 people.

More than $17 million in property and/or narcotics recovered.

That’s the record of Huntsville Area Crime Stoppers over the past 40 years.

Though the program started at the dawn of the internet, social media has proved to be an effective tool, said Kerry Straub, president of the area Crime Stoppers board.

Especially for those extremely hard-to-find criminals.

“Now we have a platform,” he said. “The warrants have been issued for the bad guys and law enforcement needs to know where they’re putting their heads down.”

Straub, a retired FBI agent, said the organization is not only a tool to help law enforcement, but also to recruit visitors and residents.

“If we want people to come here, we want them to feel safe,” he said.

Straub also said partnering with WAFF-TV has been rewarding.

“They are a great partner,” he said. “If we have their name and their picture, over 90% of them will be arrested.

“They’re a value-added asset to the community.”

Crime Stoppers encourages people to assist local law enforcement agencies by overcoming the two key elements that inhibit community involvement: fear and apathy. The program offers anonymity and cash rewards of up to $1,000 for information leading to the arrest of felony crime offenders. Anonymous tips can be submitted at 53crimeorg or by calling 256-53CRIME (7463).

It’s simple: “Anonymity overcomes fear of involvement. Cash overcomes apathy.”

Amazingly, Straub said, “Some people don’t ask for money.”

Straub said he got involved in the organization after retiring from the FBI because, though he didn’t want to be law enforcement, he “wanted to give back. I want to be a part of Huntsville.”

The 501 (c)3 organization’s board is all-volunteer and the Huntsville Police Department provides an officer as a coordinator.

“We raise money with an annual auction and from donations,” Straub said.

Contributions of $1,200 or more will be on Crime Stoppers “Scroll of Honor” and contributors will receive recognition on Channel 48‘s “Scroll of Honor” several times a year.

“All the funds go toward rewards and operations (website, social platforms, other services,)” he said. “We’re a lean organization.”

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