Published: Dec 16, 2010 5:47 PM EST
Updated: Dec 16, 2010 2:48 PM EST

As 2010 nears its end, Cime Stoppers has experienced an unprecedented last-minute rally with anonymous tips, and, consequently, with a spike in rewards being handed out to its callers.

On Wednesday, Dec. 15th alone, Southwest Florida Crime Stoppers dolled out $8,020 in rewards to tipsters for providing information on cases ranging from wanted fugitives and robbers, to a troupe operating a large scale grow house in Collier County. On average, Crime Stoppers awards between $9,000 to $13,000 per month in rewards. Yesterdays $8,020 one-day disbursement was by far the largest in the program's nearly 30-year history.

Since January 1, Crime Stoppers tips have led to the arrest of 673 criminals, with a clearance of 1,580 criminal charges. As of this morning, $143,700 in rewards have been given out since the start of the year, and by the time New Year's Eve rolls around, that reward amount should come close to, if not top, the $150,000 mark. Yesterday's dramatic increase in reward amounts is a direct result of tips coming in on some high profile cases within the last few weeks. Cash rewards were given out for information leading to the arrests of two carjacking/robbery suspects, the robbery suspect from the Bank of America hold-up last week, a sizeable grow house operation in Collier County on December 8th, which led to the arrest of five suspects and a seizure of $105,000 in marijuana, and an additional $3,000 in grow house equipment. An anonymous Crime Stoppers tip also led investigators to this week's arrest of two men involved in a fatal hit and run crash in Fort Myers on December 5th. That tipster has yet to pick up their reward, but hopefully they'll do so just in time for Christmas. "The success of the Crime Stoppers program is credited exclusively to the good citizens of our community who have picked up the phone and called us with critical information they have on unsolved cases and wanted criminals," according to Trish Routte, Crime Stoppers Coordinator. "Our community is much safer thanks to those individuals who did the right thing. And while the men and women who have been arrested may look at our program as the Grinch who ruined their Christmas plans, we're elated to be able to provide extra cash to the good guys, to help make their Christmas a little brighter." Monies used to pay Crime Stoppers rewards are not taken from tax dollars, but rather from fines which criminals are assessed during the judicial process.

Anyone with information on any unsolved crime or wanted fugitive can call Crime Stoppers 24 hours a day, seven days a week, at 1-800-780-TIPS (8477). Tips may also be made online at www.swflcrimestoppers.org. Starting in early 2011, Crime Stoppers will also be launching a text tipping program, which will give the community one more avenue to partner with law enforcement, make their community safer, and walk away with cash in hand.

For additional information, contact Trish Routte, Crime Stoppers Coordinator, at 239-477- 1407.