2018 sets record year for tips from Crime Solvers

HARRISONBURG, Va. (WHSV) — Crime Solvers of Harrisonburg and Rockingham County has been around for more than 25 years, but 2018 saw them receiving more tips than ever before.

The program is to help the community fight crime in the valley by giving anonymous tips.

Corporal Scott Drugo, with the Harrisonburg Police Department, has overseen the project since 2017. He said Crime Solvers got 110 anonymous tips which led to 12 arrests and, in return, $4,950 in rewards.

A portion of the tips came from the case of the missing grandmother and granddaughter in the Valley that started as an Amber Alert and tragically ended with murder.

"We had probably just under 20 different tips, and some were legit and some had good information and some were,'I think I might have saw this person at a Wal-Mart near the other part of the state,' so it's still something we have to follow up on because you really never know," said Drugo.

Drugo said they investigate all tips they receive. They also work with police departments in other areas and sometimes get out-of-state tips.

"It's always kind of interesting to reach out in another jurisdiction in another state and tell them, 'Hey we have a wanted suspect in your town. Can you help us out?' and it's always been helpful, everyone's always been more than cordial to help us out," said Drugo.

Drugo gave credit to WHSV's "Wheel of Justice" which airs every Thursday night at 10 and 11 p.m. He said they have had 49 wanted suspects air on the segment and that has led to 42 of them being arrested. He also attributes success to Facebook. Each Friday, HPD posts a wanted individual for "Fugitive Friday." Drugo said they have posted 53 wanted individuals and 40 of them were arrested.

Crime Solvers is a non-profit organization. The board is made up of volunteers who want to stop crime in their community. They rely on fundraisers and donations to come up with the reward money. Donations can be dropped off at the Harrisonburg Police Department at 101 N. Main Street.

The group uses no tax dollars for their rewards.

Anonymous tips can be sent to Crime Solvers at 540-574-5050, or you can text "HPD" plus the tip to CRIMES (274637). Callers can also use the Harrisonburg Police Department non-emergency number 540-434-4436 with information. Tips can be submitted on their website too.