Shoals Area Crime Stoppers turns to an untapped market to solve crimes

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FLORENCE, Ala. – There’s a new tool when it comes to fighting crime across northwest Alabama. You might find it kind of surprising that it’s not in the hands of law enforcement, but the people who have been behind bars.

It was around a conference table where the Shoals Area Crime Stoppers Board of Directors spent time brainstorming. Seeing a decline in the number of tips coming in on the traditional phone line, they knew they needed to change strategies.

“It was down to 20, and then it was down to six or eight a month. But with the texting, we’ve given out more rewards the past two months then we did all of last year,” explained Erin Blalock with the Shoals Area Crime Stoppers.

With new tip texting software in place, they shifted their attention to targeting the people who know the most about crime and who commits it.

That’s where business cards come into play. They have all of the important information someone may need to help law enforcement solve a crime. The cards will be given to inmates across northwest Alabama who are getting out of jail.

“We feel like by putting this information in their property bags as they leave the jail it will give them the opportunity to have access to pass that information on to us that they might have picked up,” stated Lauderdale County Sheriff Rick Singleton.

With nothing but time on their hands, Sheriff Rick Singleton said inmates talk.

This is why the Shoals Area Crime Stoppers wanted to give released inmates the opportunity to share their wealth of knowledge.

“Either they over-hear it, or they saw something, or someone told them something. How-ever they get the information doesn’t matter to us,” said Blalock.

And by texting in their tips, they remain anonymous and can cash in on reward money.

The Shoals Area Crime Stoppers will be distributing the cards to jails and detention centers across the four county area in northwest Alabama in which they serve.

WHNT News 19 is a proud partner of the Shoals Area Crime Stoppers.