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Ring Ring + Bling Bling = Cha-Ching

Telephone-1.gifOh I love this - Crime Stoppers programs - kind of like neighbour hood watch - get paid for telling the cops who's been a naughty boy.

The New York Times reckons gas prices, foreclosure rates and the cost of living are driving people to give up their criminal friends, neighbours and relatives for the reward money.

Calls to the Southwest Florida Crime Stoppers hot line in the first quarter of this year were up 30 percent over last year. San Antonio had a 44 percent increase. Cities and towns from Detroit to Omaha to Beaufort County, N.C., all report increases of 25 percent or more in the first quarter, with tipsters telling operators they need the money for rent, light bills or baby formula.

Callers even turn in grandchildren or former boyfriends in exchange for a little cash.

For tips that bring results, rewards can be $50 to $1,000. And their are often bonuses for help solving the most serious crimes, or an extra “gun bounty” if a weapon is recovered. In one county, the average payment for a tip that results in an arrest is $400.

"Crime doesn’t pay but we do” say the mobile billboards cruising Jacksonville, Fla. A poster in Jackson, Tenn., draws a neat equation: “Ring Ring + Bling Bling = Cha-Ching.”

Some people have made a cottage industry of calling in tips. Although repeat callers do not give their names, operators recognize their voices. Giving a whole new twist to everybody's dream of Work From Home.

"Two or three arrests per week, you could make $700, $750 per week” a Police Sergeant said.

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