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Orange County Crime Stoppers marks 1-year anniversary

December 3, 2012 12:00:00 AM PST
Orange County Crime Stoppers is celebrating its one-year anniversary. It's a milestone for a non-profit that helps fight crime. The organization has helped local law enforcement keep the streets safe.

"It's pretty remarkable to see every law enforcement agency here in Orange County has come on board," said Patricia Wenskunas, founder of the nonprofit organization.

Wenskunas is a crime survivor. She wanted to help prevent crime and solve cases in Orange County.

"Orange County is a safer county today than it was a year ago because of the power and the partnerships of Orange County Crime Stoppers," said Irvine Police Chief Dave Maggard.

For the past year, tips through OC Crime Stoppers have led to more than 100 arrests and more than 200 charges filed.

A 90-year-old crime victim who only wanted to be identified as "Barbara" was tied up and held at gunpoint as a second suspect ransacked her Rossmoor home last year. She was able to provide authorities with a description. Several hours after the sketch was released, OC Crime Stoppers got a tip that led to an arrest.

"We in law enforcement cannot do our jobs alone," said Maggard. "We need to have effective partnerships with the community. And Crime Stoppers provides us with that connectivity."

Anonymous tips also came in after police released surveillance video showing suspects involved in a series of robberies of check-cashing businesses. The tips led to the arrest of 34-year-old Rashaw Pickett.

"If it wasn't for the help of the media and Orange County Crime Stoppers, there's a good chance those would still go unsolved," said Santa Ana Police Chief Carlos Rojas.

Wenskunas believes the program is successful because people can provide information without giving their name.

"It's all anonymous. You can text a tip, you can Web a tip, you can call in a tip. You don't have to worry about retaliation," said Wenskunas. "You do what's right and let law enforcement go ahead and make the arrest."

Orange County Crime Stoppers statistics (as of 11/28/12)
685 Tips
101 Arrests
245 Charges filed

Recoveries:
9 guns
$235,684 worth of drugs
$36,608 worth of property
$272,292 total recovered


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