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Student 'crime stoppers' winners feted as tip line gets $450K boost

Ontario government funding ensures tipsters can submit information 24/7

A nearly half-a-million cash infusion from the Ontario government will make it possible to anonymously share tips about serious crime 24-hours-a-day through the Crime Stoppers 1-800-222-TIPS (8477) line.

The $450,000 in funding over two years was announced today at York Regional Police’s Aurora headquarters by Christine Hogarth, parliamentary assistant to Ontario Solicitor General Sylvia Jones.

“The telephone remains a critical link between Crime Stoppers and the public,” Hogarth said. “Today’s funding will help ensure there is always someone to answer the phone after hours, on weekends, and during holidays to take tips from concerned citizens.”

Crime Stoppers of York Region is a community partnership between the public, police, and the media, York Regional Police Chief Eric Jolliffe said. 

“Whatever can be done to improve access to programs to make it easier and safer for tipsters to call, to have the ability to take those calls anytime, day or night, can only help us solve more crime in a more timely manner,” he said.

Since the launch of the local chapter of the provincial Crime Stoppers program in 2001, tips from the public have produced the following:

  • 33,669: Tips received
  • 3,220: Number of arrests
  • 3,562: Cases cleared
  • 8,635: Charges laid
  • $35,829,247: Value of property recovered
  • 299: Weapons seized
  • $112,492,084: Value of drugs seized
  • $460,208: Rewards awarded

“I would hope that you would agree with me that this program has a pretty good return on investment,” Jolliffe said.

In honour of January being Crime Stoppers Month, Canadian Crime Stoppers Association president Dave Forster took the opportunity today to announce its new national initiative known as To Those that Took the Missing. 

The goal is to solicit tips from the public regarding historical missing persons. 

“Each year, heinous acts are committed that have left families grieving for lost loved ones, and families never give up hope,” Forster said. “We all recognize that each time a crime is committed, someone knows something. So do the right thing, come forward, to help the families have closure.” 

After the tip line funding announcement, the winners of Crime Stoppers of York Region’s Student School Symposium poster and video challenge were revealed. This year marks the first time for a video component in the competition.

Each year, the symposium brings together local high school students to discuss issues of concern to them. The theme, “protect each other, respect each other” emerged and more than 100 creative submissions were received from students across York Region’s school boards.

Three winners were selected in the poster category, each winning $250, and one video winner took home a $300 prize.

Michael Speciale, a Grade 12 student from St. Jean de Brebeuf Catholic High School in Woodbridge who spearheaded and filmed the video about the dangers of toxic relationships and how friends can help each other, said the idea was based on a true story.

“We were brainstorming and our guidance counsellor had the same experience where she caught her friend in a washroom trying to cover a bruise on her face,” Speciale said. “She discovered the abuse, and her friend was blaming it on a rugby game or making excuses. So, respect each other, protect each other, means when friends see their friends getting abused, and the friend is afraid to speak out, they should come together and do the right thing and report it. Having a good friend guiding you through the process makes it a lot easier to move on from the situation and solve it.”

The video was shot on a professional development day, Speciale said, laughing, so no school time was missed. And classmates Andrew Scarlato, Grade 12, Anthony Matti, Grade 10, and Megan Bray, Grade 10, were tapped to do the acting.

“These competitions are definitely raising awareness about Crime Stoppers in our school,” he said.

And the video winner is:

  • Michael Speciale, a Grade 12 student from St. Jean de Brebeuf Catholic High School in Woodbridge

And the poster winners are:

  • Amy Liang, Grade 12 student from Bill Hogarth High School in Markham
  • Andrea Christuraja, Grade 12 student from St. Brother Andre Catholic High School in Markham
  • Elizabeth Kwofie, Grade 12 student from St. Brother Andre Catholic High School in Markham

Tipsters can call the 24-hour toll free line at 1-(800)-222-TIPS to report information involving serious crime such as assault, homicide, missing person, robberies, break and enter, theft, arson, drug activity and property damage.

Or you can share tips and information online here.


Kim Champion

About the Author: Kim Champion

Kim Champion is a veteran journalist and editor who covers Newmarket and issues that impact York Region.
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