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Crimestoppers benefits from recession-hit grasses

Hard times mean no honour among thieves

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Snitching hotline Crimestoppers has reported it's on a bit of a roll purging the UK's streets of crims - thanks to boracic citizens increasingly willing to grass for cash.

According to the Times, reward payments for crimebusting tip-offs in 2008-09 hit £35,000 - "the highest recorded payout in 11 years and is topped only by payments made in the 1990s, at the peak of that decade’s economic downturn".

The charity's chief exec, Mick Laurie, said: “Looking at Crimestoppers’ statistics over the past few years, some may conclude that there might be a correlation between the number of people claiming rewards and the recession.”

Indeed, among the reports Crimestoppers received was that of the commuter who rang his missus from a bus and told her to stage a burglary at their home so they could claim on the insurance. A fellow passenger overheard the mobile phone conversation and called it in.

Another, demonstrating the credit crunch effect on honour among thieves, involved a prisoner who asked his other half to “shop” him for a robbery he had committed "so that she could claim the Crimestoppers reward". Another lag decided he'd prefer the cash himself and grassed him up.

A less successful attempt to swell the personal coffers came from one sharp-eyed citizen who insisted he'd seen Osama bin Laden coming out of Tesco.

Crimestoppers has around 30 "handlers" who field up to 600 such calls a day, which contribute to the annual total of 220,000 telephone and email tip-offs. Info which results in a conviction for a serious crime can earn the informant £10,000, while a similar result for a lesser crime might be worth £1,000.

In fact, as the Times notes, just one per cent of Brits who contact Crimestoppers actually claim a reward - as opposed to 80 per cent of those who get in touch with the Stateside equivalent. The charity has, since setting up shop in 1988, coughed more than £1m in rewards.

Cash aside, Crimestoppers is celebrating a "personal best" during 2008-9 when it helped police "solve 85 murder cases across Britain in 2008-09, a figure that includes at least 20 per cent of all solved murders in the capital". ®

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