A snitch line campaign that aims to pry illegal guns from the hands of gangsters is yielding some early results after six months but it’s far short of a target of getting 500 firearms off the street in the first year.
The “Cash for Guns” campaign launched last June by Metro Vancouver Crime Stoppers offered a $2,000 reward for anonymous tipsters to report an illegal firearm.
It was hoped friends, family, associates or even rivals of gangsters would rat them out and help police seize their guns.
So far “dozens” of illegal guns and other weapons have been retrieved through the campaign and more than 200 anonymous tips have come in, according to Linda Annis, executive director of Metro Vancouver Crime Stoppers.
She was unable to provide specific numbers or other details of seizures, arrests or rewards paid, but said the campaign has generated “excellent” intelligence for police.
“Many of the files are still under investigation,” Annis said, noting there is often a lengthy lag between tips, police investigations and any charges being laid.
“We’re not at the 500 goal yet – we’re still reaching and hoping to achieve that,” Annis said.
But she called the program a success, adding Crime Stoppers has been asked to extend it for another year.
Most tips to Crime Stoppers that lead to criminal prosecution don’t actually result in a reward being claimed for a variety of reasons, she added.
In 2014, tips to Metro Vancouver Crime Stoppers helped lead to about 180 arrests but only about a dozen rewards were paid out.
Annis said she’s hoping recent publicity about mass shootings in the U.S. will prompt more Lower Mainland residents to report illegal guns and “help get them off the street.”