Celebrating Crime Stoppers

By Ron Fanfair

Ron Fanfair


Community Partnerships and Engagement Unit

Last year, anonymous tips led to the removal of 30 illegal firearms and assisted Toronto Police in solving five homicides.

Also, a community tip resulted in the arrest of BOLO #1 Most Wanted Suspect. Wanted for second-degree murder, he was captured in Prince Edward Island earlier this month.

Toronto Crime Stoppers outstanding work and its collaboration with community partners was celebrated at the 26th annual Chief of Police Dinner on May 2.

“This community led partnership between Toronto Crime Stoppers, the police and the public has provided a way for concerned residents to help share information about potentially illegal activities anonymously without fear of retaliation,” said Chief Myron Demkiw. 

“By doing this, Toronto Crime Stoppers fosters community engagement in crime prevention and gives people a way to play an active role in keeping their own communities safe. And despite the success that it has in fulfilling that mandate, Toronto Crime Stoppers continues to innovate and is always seeking new ways to enhance community safety through crime reduction and prevention initiatives.”

Premier Doug Ford and Solicitor General Michael Kerzner also joined the dinner for the coommunity-run organization, which is run by a volunteer board of directors.

“I want to acknowledge the leadership and dedication of the people behind the organization who are diving the positive impact it has on our great city,” added Demkiw. “We truly appreciate everything they do for this great city.”

Chief Myron Demkiw speaks at the Crime Stoppers Dinner
Chief Demkiw gives a speech at the Crime Stoppers Dinner Photo: Kevin Masterman

In the four decades since its creation, the Crime Stoppers program has received over 192,000 anonymous tips resulting in nearly 12,000 arrests and 41,000 charges being laid.

Approximately $72 million in property has been recovered and over $139 million in seized narcotics taken off the streets.

“As you can see, this program has been instrumental in fighting crime in Toronto with exceptional success,” said Chair Sean Sportun. “Working together as a community, Toronto Crime Stoppers will remain relentless in our efforts to enhance community safety for the citizens of Toronto by solving and preventing crime one tip at a time.”

Four years ago, the program advanced the concept of Crime Stoppers by removing individual cash reward payout for tipsters.

A unique approach that channels funding efforts back into communities was introduced through the Community Reward Program that focuses on supporting crime prevention through community engagement or community improvement initiatives.

“By investing in projects that enhance community safety and empower a movement towards a crime-free Toronto, we aim to make a lasting and meaningful impact in our city,” said Sportun. “It is important to note that Toronto Crime Stoppers is the only program in the world to operate under this innovative community-based model and our record setting results have reinforced the direction our program has taken. It has become our blueprint for success.”

Since the launch of the new model in 2020, there has been a 62 percent increase in cases cleared and arrests made, a 110 percent increase in charges laid, a 2231 percent increase in illegal narcotics recovered, a 3481 increase in property seized, a 1100 percent increase in tips that have helped investigators solve homicides, a 1700 percent increase that have led to the seizure of illegal firearms and a 5200 per cent increase in tips that have led to the recovery of stolen vehicles.

A group of men in suits during an awards presentation
Sean Sportun (left), Chief Demkiw (second to left) and Marc Madramootoo (right) present now-retired Staff Superintendent Gary Grant with an award for helping create Crime Stoppers Photo: Kevin Masterman

The Toronto Crime Stoppers program was launched in 1984 after then Chief Jack Marks asked now-retired Staff Superintendent Gary Grant – who was a Sergeant at the time – to start the initiative.

Crime Stoppers gave out several awards at the Chief's Gala:

  • Grant and co-founder Cal Millar were the recipients of Lifetime Achievement Awards.
  • The Bill Hancox Award of Excellence was presented to the Provincial Carjacking Task Force and Organized Crime Investigative Support Unit.
  • The Gary Grant Media Award of Excellence recognized the team Global TV who produced the Crime Beat Most Wanted series.
  • Uber was honoured with the Community Partnership Award for their ongoing work on crime prevention initiatives.

Crime Stoppers is the brainchild of Canadian-born Greg MacAleese, who was an officer with the Albuquerque Police Department in New Mexico. After running out of leads in a homicide investigation, the frustrated cop turned to the public for assistance in 1976.

He produced the first crime re-enactment that was aired on local television and made available to other media outlets and promised that anyone providing information leading to an arrest would be eligible for a cash reward.

Within hours of the broadcast, police received a tip that led to the arrest of two suspects who were charged with murder. They were sentenced to life terms with no chance of parole.

Toronto has one of the largest programs in the world. There are close to 1,300 Crime Stoppers programs in nearly 20 countries.

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