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Tip interrupts Maple Ridge dial-a-dope operation

RCMP seized cash and illegal drugs worth more than $30,000 from an apartment at 22858 Lougheed Highway.
RCMP seized $30

An anonymous tip and police surveillance led to a bust of a busy dial-a-dope line that had been operating in downtown Maple Ridge for months.

RCMP seized cash and illegal drugs worth more than $30,000 from an apartment at 22858 Lougheed Highway.

The investigation was sparked by a tip to CrimeStoppers last May that identified a young Asian man as someone who was delivering drugs to a house on River Road.

Police checked the licence plate number provided and found it registered to a 21-year-old man who been in contact with police 22 times since 2009 and “had associations” with the Rez Back Punioz gang.

A search warrant application says the Filipino gang consists of young men in their late teens and  early 20s.

In January, police began tailing a green Nissan Pathfinder that was linked to the crew.

They kept tabs on the SUV as it picked up and dropped off customers behind a 7-Eleven on Lougheed Hwy., a Dairy Queen, gas stations and mall parking lots.

Mounties also arrested a “buyer” after he got out of the Nissan and seized a point of heroin from him.

Through surveillance, police were able to pin-point the base of the dial-a-dope operation and eventually obtained a search warrant to raid the apartment on Jan. 11.

Heroin and crack cocaine were found inside the apartment, in addition to more than $14,000 in cash.

The anonymous tips that pour into CrimeStoppers are increasingly being credited for triggering police investigations or solving crimes.

RCMP Const. Jack Stetz, the CrimeStoppers co-ordinator for B.C., calls the tips that “first piece of the puzzle.”

In 2011, Metro Vancouver CrimeStoppers received 3,985 tips, resulting in the recovery of property worth $1.5 million and the seizure of $15.3 million in drugs.

Statistics show that since 2008, the number of arrests made as a result of CrimeStoppers tips has more than tripled, while the number of cases cleared has doubled.

The riot in downtown Vancouver generated 300 tips in 36 hours.

Tips through CrimeStoppers’ website are also increasing.

In British Columbia, there are 43 CrimeStoppers programs that work in partnership with police to help solve and prevent crime.

Stetz is the officer who forwards tips to police agencies from Squamish to Abbotsford.

“When an anonymous tip comes in, the police officer and detachment looks at it and determines if it’s good or not,” explains Stetz.

“That can lead to further investigation and, subsequently, lead to search warrant. Tips are up. Every year we see an increase in the number of tips.”

Although CrimeStoppers offers a reward for tips that lead to an arrest, the non-profit society says it isn’t the cash incentive that’s motivating tipsters.

Tips received are going up monthly, but the number of pay-outs isn’t reflected in the number of tips, said Len McGeouch, past president of the Metro Vancouver CrimeStoppers Association.

“People are doing it more out of social responsibility,” he added.