History of Crime Stoppers

Crime Stoppers Founder Greg MacAleese shares how the Crime Stoppers program began and why it's an effective tool in solving crimes.

Crime Stoppers was the brain child of Canadian born Greg MacAleese, a Detective with the Albuquerque Police Department, New Mexico in 1976. MacAleese had run out of leads in a homicide investigation in which a young gas station attendant was robbed then murdered. For no other apparent reason then to eliminate him as a witness the suspects blasted him twice with a sawed off shot gun prior to fleeing the scene. Since the gas station was located on a busy street corner and the murder took place during dusk hours, MacAleese decided to appeal to the public for assistance. He was aware that general apathy and fear of reprisal were two major prohibitions mitigating against the public coming forth with information concerning the crime.

MacAleese approached the local television cable company and taped a staged re-enactment on location and aired the tape over the next 24 hour period. He established a tips line at the office where he would receive calls from anyone who would call to provide information concerning the homicide, guaranteeing anonymity to the “Tipster”. The guarantee of anonymity was intended to overcome the fear of retribution and MacAleese offered a $300.00 cash reward from his own pocket to overcome apathy.

Within twelve hours of broadcasting the re-enactment, MacAleese received several calls and the case was solved as a direct result of a tipster who reported observing the suspect vehicle fleeing the gas station parking lot at a high rate of speed.

The coalition between the media and the police resulted in the first Crime Stoppers program being spawned. From this experience MacAleese felt the public should play a lead role in this program so he drafted the services of several prominent citizens to serve as a governing Board of Directors for the crime fighting organization.

The partnership of the media, the police and the community forming a union against the fight against crime was in place and the concept spread rapidly to a point where today there are over 1,000 programs internationally of which 81 are operating in Canada and almost 40 in Ontario alone.