Anonymous tip line used sparsely

The anonymous tip line implemented by the WPD has had only limited success so far. Text-a-Tip is a way for residents to help fight crime. So why aren’t more people using it?

Jackia Carr of Wilmington said, “People don’t report crimes and stuff because it leads to more violence cause when you see something, and people know that you have that information or whatever, they like, come looking for you and stuff.”

Many who wouldn’t go on camera say, reporting a crime to the cops can be deadly, even if it means putting a bad guy behind bars. Carr continued, “But then they’re going to get back out and then they’re going to be looking for you and what not.”

That’s exactly both the reason behind and part of the problem with Text-a-Tip.

The hope is that an anonymous tip line would encourage folks who are scared to come forward.

Corporal Stephanie Boucher with WPD intelligence says only between five and ten come in a week. “We’re hoping to get texts in soon, as soon as they know and feel comfortable and safe with it.”

The other theory is that while police say it’s anonymous, it isn’t.

But police insist it is.

Boucher explained, “When a person sends a text a tip, what happens is there’s a program that strips the phone number and assigns a user ID, which is four characters.”

After the tip is sent it, the server responds back to the user ID, and that may be the issue. “When they get an answer back, it might scare them thinking that we know who they are but we don’t. It’s still anonymous, we don’t know who the message is being sent to, we just know its going back to the person that originally sent the message.”

The tipsters four character ID is saved in the system. Future texts from that person will be logged under that user id. That way police can give more attention to texts who’ve helped lead them to criminals before.

To text a tip, type tip-7-0-8, then your message. Send it to “crimes” – or 2-7-4-6-3-7.

Categories: New Hanover

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