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March 15, 2014

Crimeline of Southern N.H. discontinued

Fewer tipsters reporting crimes

SALEM — After 30 years of helping to solve crimes, Crimeline of Southern New Hampshire has disbanded.

A major decrease in tips in the last several years prompted the organization’s board of directors recently to discontinue its anonymous tip line and website.

“People weren’t calling in,” board member Ron Penczak said yesterday. “We really haven’t had a lot of tips over the last five years.”

Crimeline helped solve approximately 70 cases over the years, leading to the conviction of 42 criminals, he said. The tips led to the recovery of $71,000 in stolen property and $37,000 worth of narcotics, Penczak said.

It began as Salem Crimeline in July 1984, then expanded in 1995 to also serve Derry, Londonderry and Windham.

The organization was the only one of its kind in Southern New Hampshire, even though police departments generally ask the public to call them with tips or to submit them through their websites.

Crimeline tipsters received up to $1,000 if the information they provided led to a conviction. Community donations helped fund the effort, with details on each suspect publicized through the media’s help.

But Penczak said the public is generally not as willing to report crimes as in the past. He had been with Crimeline for nine years.

“I don’t think that they want to get involved,” Penczak said. “I don’t think that people realized the tips were anonymous.”

He also said a decline in newspaper readership made it tougher to get the word out.

Tip lines tend to be more successful in large cities than towns, Penczak said.

“I think in the big urban areas, such as Manchester, they are doing well,” he said.

Penczak said despite the cooperation of the community, media and police departments, it just wasn’t enough to keep Crimeline going.

An organization that once had 21 board members saw that number fall to 12, he said.

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