Published: May 23, 2012 10:14 PM EDT
Updated: May 23, 2012 11:18 PM EDT

ESTERO, Fla.- Crimestoppers from Southwest Florida and across the country were sharing tips with each other.   From Washington DC to Puerto Rico, the Crimestoppers program helps catch criminals.

"We don't want to reinvent the wheel.  We want to share that information and support each other," said Trish Routte of SWFL Crimestoppers.

Criminals should shudder at what's going on at a meeting room in the Hyatt Coconut Point in Estero.

"This is a family reunion. We are all Crimestoppers programs. We get to see each other once a year. We get to share ideas and we're all on the same side," said Routte.

Southwest Florida Crimestoppers is hosting this year's conference, which is more than just a week of meetings.

"We've brought in speakers for the last three days to talk about topics from pill mills, human trafficking, trying to bring forth issues," she said.

On Wednesday, working with the media was on the agenda. Many of the tips come from television viewers. In Southwest Florida those tips lead to 778 arrests last year, more than 1,700 cases closed and $182,000 rewarded.

"Crimestoppers is pivotal for every single community," said Routte.

But it's also different for every community.

In Prince Georges County, Maryland it's a volunteer board that operates, what they call the Crime Solvers program.

They recently helped nab the East Coast rapist.

"Someone called in a tip to the tip line and it was solved in our area and the tip came in that the person was in Connecticut and the person got extradited to our area," said Tim Murphy.

The entire room represents thousands of cases solved because of the anonymous tip program and each year they're getting better and better.

"Knowing that our help solved a crime and is taking bad people off the streets," said Murphy.