Manitoba Crime Stoppers is urging rural residents to report any suspicious activities they may witness in their community.
Sgt. Tom Cooney , provincial co-ordinator for Manitoba Crime Stoppers, said the program relies on anonymous tips to assist local police in solving crimes.
"When people call in, they are anonymous. They’re assigned a tip number," he said, adding tips can be sent in by calling a toll-free number, sending a text message or visiting www.manitobacrimestoppers.com.
Cooney acknowledged that some people are reluctant to report incidents involving family, friends or even other community members in small towns where everyone knows each other.
He said part of the reason why Manitoba Crime Stoppers has been successful is that it guarantees a tipster’s identity will never be revealed.
The program has been in operation for 16 years and the number of tips it receives each year continues to grow. Cooney said the organization received 608 calls last year alone.
"We’ll probably go up by a 15 to 20% increase this year," he said.
The Crime Stoppers website lists crimes committed across the province. For example, police are currently seeking information on two fires that were set in a haystack near Sanford, causing $5,000 in damage.
Cooney said criminal activity in rural Manitoba is no different than in the city and can range from minor incidents to homicide.
He said information received from rural RCMP detachments can be used to create posters which are displayed in the area where a crime happened. The tips those posters generate can then help detachments with their investigations.
Sergeant Denis Jolicouer at the Headingley RCMP detachment said they just printed and will distribute Crime Stoppers posters asking for information on a break and enter and robbery at the Headingley Hotel.
"The program does work and we do use it," he said.
Cooney regularly visits rural school to spread the word about Crime Stoppers among students.
A student Crime Stoppers program operates throughout the province. Students can report on criminal activity within their school or in the community at large. Depending on the nature of the incident, it might be referred to local police or school administrators. As with the regular Crime Stoppers program, student tipsters remain anonymous, Cooney said.