Text Crime Line securely with new app

Published 12:32 pm Saturday, September 5, 2015

Law enforcement authorities in Isle of Wight County are excited about two expanded ways for the public to help fight crime, and they’re as easy as typing on your smartphone or computer keyboard.

By downloading a free app, TipSubmit by PublicEngines, residents can deliver a crime-related tip to county police or the sheriff’s office without compromising their identity or security.

Lt. Tommy Potter, an investigator with the county Sheriff’s Office, and Windsor Police Chief R.D. Riddle earlier this week sat down with Bruce Cobb and Edmund Mortimer of the county Crime Line board to share the news with media.

“The nice thing [about the texting] is we can immediately get the information. There’s no downtime,” said Riddle.

“Right then and there. Within seconds of hitting the send button,” added Potter. “Nothing tells us who sent it.”

Further, tipsters can communicate beyond the initial message. Say the receiver gets a notice about the driver of a car driving slowly around and around a neighborhood. That person can ask for the license plate number, description of the car or driver or location. The dialogue can continue until the sender types the word ‘stop’ anywhere in the message, so be careful not to include it within — such as ‘stop sign’ — until you are ready to end the transmission.

Cobb said that while Portsmouth already has this program in place, the TipSoft is obviously in its infancy, and all four men are quite optimistic about its potential.

They also each said at one time or another that they couldn’t emphasize enough how secure this new method is for residents.

To get the free app onto your phone or computer, go to an apps store and find TipSubmit by Public Engines and follow the directions for downloading.

When reporting a tip from the app, text the word Crimes (not case sensitive), and in the body of message, first write IOWCL, leave a space and then begin the message.

“It’s a win-win for everyone,” Riddle said, adding that in addition to law officers on the lookout, there are “now 35,000 extra set of eyes.”

Of course, people can still provide information securely by calling 1-888-LOCK-U-UP (562-5887). But no matter whether you’re texting, emailing or calling by phone, a tip you provide could earn a reward of up to $1,000 if it leads to an arrest or recovery of stolen property or drugs.

In case you’re wondering, that money comes from donations as well as fundraisers, such as ticket sale for the annual “Top Cop” awards dinner.

Both Cobb and Mortimer welcome residents’ interest in either voluntarily serving Crime Line or making contributions. Call Cobb at 357-9497 or b_cobb00@hotmail.com; or Mortimer at 356-0235 or ecmortimer@aol.com.