Fight crime in Isle of Wight with Crime Line

Published 11:26 am Saturday, July 28, 2018

Because law enforcement such as sheriff’s deputies or police cannot be everywhere at once in Isle of Wight County, residents can do their part to help prevent crime, especially in the summer months when so many people leave home for vacations. Being alert to one’s surroundings and serving as a participant in a neighborhood watch program are two examples. A third way is quick, safe and can even earn you some cash: Crime Line.

Of course, people can still use their telephones to report suspicious activity or the witness of crimes at 1-888-LOCK-U-UP (562-5887.) There is also the app TipSubmit by PublicEngines that was introduced a few years ago. Downloading on a phone, laptop or tablet is easy, free and also provides the same security that will not put a caller’s identity or security at risk.

Volpe Boykin, chairman of the county’s Crime Line Board, said that to the best of his knowledge, no one has ever been identified using that crime-fighting tool.

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. The texting method delivers details immediately. Tipsters can even go beyond the initial call, providing new details if and when they become available. For example, say that the receiver gets word of a person lurking about a neighborhood. A request can be made to get as much of a description of that individual, what they appear to be doing and approximately or exactly where that person is located. That 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.

By year’s end, though, the hope is to add a new system, P-3, which could enable a sender to relay photos or videos. The county Crime Line board would also like to get that app included on school-owned laptops or tablets. Boykin added that the Isle of Wight school system already has a tip number, but it’s not state code protected the same way.

Regardless if you’re calling or texting, a reward of up to $1,000 becomes available if it leads to an arrest or recovery of stolen property or drugs. The money amounts are based on a point scale, with more severe crimes such as assault, rape or murder understandably rating on the highest level.

To track whether or not the tip proved fruitful, the caller must again contact Crime Line. Giving just the  previously assigned number, the person can ask about the status of the alleged crime and whether there was a successful capture.

If that’s the case, the caller is instructed to go to Farmers Bank, where the money is available. Giving that number is all that is needed.

“We never know who they are,” said Boykin.

By ‘We’ he refers not only to law enforcement, but also the Crime Line board, which oversees the program, point system, and fundraising.

“People think we get the money from the state or the police,” Boykin said. But such is not the case.

“We raise the money through donations from people and businesses,” he continued. Another source is the annual “Top Cop” banquet, which also serves as a fundraiser.

Ideally, there are two people from each voting district in the county who serve on the board for a total of 10, but two places are open for Windsor and Smithfield. So, volunteers are welcome.

“It’s not overly demanding work, he said.

Lt. James Pope of the county Sheriff’s office serves as vice chairman of the regional board, but there are no law enforcement representatives on the local panel so as to avoid a conflict of interest or even the appearance of one.

“We want to be very careful not to open up information via subpoena,” said Boykin.

To learn more about joining the board or contributing to the fund, contact Boykin at either 287-3309 or