Community calls help stop crime

Arrests made thanks to Crime Stoppers program

HARLINGEN — As Crime Stoppers Coordinator, Harlingen police officer Reynaldo Delua always has his cell phone nearby and ready to answer 24 hours and seven days a week.

While he proceeds to walk to his office to look over yearly statistics, he receives a call and quickly pulls out a pen and a note pad to write details down.

“I have to answer at any time because any tip I get, whether it is something small or big can help,” Delua said. “It can be a call about anything, thefts, murders, shoplifting. The point is for Crime Stoppers to work as a mediator for the police department.”

What is Crime Stoppers?

The Harlingen Crime Stoppers program started in June 1982, but the first Crime Stoppers started September 8, 1976, in Albuquerque, following a murder investigation where detectives asked residents to give them an anonymous call if they knew helpful details, according to according to crimestoppersusa.org.

In Harlingen, depending on the severity of the case, a reward is given to the anonymous caller if the tip leads to an arrest.

The rewards, which can be up to $1,000, come from funding by Cameron County.

“We have a worksheet, where depending on the seriousness of the crime, we use a point system and decide what kind of reward the caller will be getting,” Delua said.

“There must be an arrest to receive a reward,” he said. “It used to be where we would give them out just with someone being convicted, but it takes too long to know whether they will be sentenced.”

Those entitled to a cash reward collect the money by getting a pin number and other bank instructions once the case is public.

Delua explained the anonymous callers have to contact him to claim their reward because is unable to call them back.

Although not all callers have good intentions, the majority of tips are helpful.

“We have had calls in the past that are false. Someone might try to get a person they don’t like in trouble and they call us giving false information,” Delua said. “We always investigate and dismiss those, but usually, the calls have allowed us to arrest murderers or serious cases like that.”

Where is Crime Stoppers present?

Crime Stoppers not only works alongside the Harlingen Police Department, it also has a partnership with the Harlingen school district that has allowed the program to help decrease crime in schools.

Both Harlingen high schools and all of the middle schools, as well as Dr. Cano Academy, are under the Crime Stoppers watch.

The school districts of Rio Hondo, Combes, Santa Rosa and Primera are also part of the program.

Delua said the cases coming from the schools are handled separately from the other calls.

The school Crime Stoppers program is evaluated quarterly, and the success of the tips is determined depending if charges were filed or if administrative discipline was the only form of punishment.

Overall, Delua said the program has allowed the police department to successfully apprehend many criminals, though that is not always the case.

“We once had a lady who had committed a burglary with her husband,” Delua said. “She made a call to blame him because he didn’t share the items with her. They both got arrested. That happens once in a while, but when we get a good tip it helps a lot. It’s about working together and with that great things can happen.”

By the numbers

2018 HCISD Crime Stoppers

• 37 tips received and 32 pursued

•$660 dollars approved in rewards

• $510 in drugs seized

• 3 weapons seized

2018 City of Harlingen Crime Stoppers

•22 suspects arrested

•268 calls received

•$5,200 approved in rewards

•$5,988.80 seized in narcotics

Harlingen Crime Stoppers 24/7 Hotline – (956) 425-8477

Harlingen Crime Stoppers 24/7 Hotline – (956) 425-8477