There are, at last count, around 8 billion people on the planet.
The odds of someone seeing a crime committed are actually quite high when put into that perspective.
That’s where tip lines come in. The crime is committed, someone knows about it, and they call the number and get a nice little reward for their assistance.
Of course, for the people that call the line, how they got there is the real story.
Redditor Renzotl56 was curious and so came to Reddit to ask:
“Has anyone here ever actually called into one of the FBI rewards for information on criminals and won the money? And what happened?”
Coincidence can pay handsomely.
“Ten years ago I’m working front desk at this third rate motel and I’m the only employee on property until 7am.”
“So I get this report of an unruly guest and check it out.”
“Dudes whacked out on something, threatening other guests and I call the cops to remove him.”
“On their way out they tell me he’s got active warrants in another state.”
“I don’t think anything of until three months later I got a check sent to me at work from a sheriff’s office two states over.”
“Turns out the guy was wanted for a double murder and I got the reward when he was convicted.”
“I felt pretty good about that.”~still_alive_in_NY
The reward isn’t always money.
“This is kind of related, when I was younger there was a bad drought and the lake I went to fish at was probably 10 feet below where it usually is maybe more, and I went to go fishing under a bridge with my stepdad.”
“I got bored so I started playing in the rocks.”
“I found an old pocket knife and a pistol.”
“Turned the pistol in to the local police department and got a metal back from them and a letter where it was used in a case to convict a murderer, I don’t really remember the details I was in fourth or fifth grade“~p*ssycrusha69
Sometimes, the best reward is a job well done.
“My sister has a pretty weird hobby – she solves cold cases by helping match descriptions of bodies that have never been positively ID’d to missing persons matching the body’s description.”
“She’s solved several cases and submits them to the FBI tip line.”
“Twice now, she’s gotten phone calls from law enforcement as a result, one from the FBI and one from a local police department.”
“One had reward money tied to it from long, long ago.”
“She turned it down.”
“Both times, she’s informed the agency calling that the missing person disappeared before she was 10 years old (that’s her limit, she doesn’t look at recent cases to avoid potential problems), and they just kinda shrug and move on.”
Some people had to give a bit more help than others.
“In college we had a drive-by shooting on my block.”
“The police showed up and asked all the neighbors if they had any information.”
“I had just heard the shots from my house, and wasn’t able to help.”
“A few days later I was walking home from class and I found a shell casing the in the grass near where the shooting was.”
“I didn’t want to touch it so I got home and called the police.”
“I was very very specific about exactly where the shell casing was, and that I DO NOT want the police to come to my door.”
“The neighbors were pretty sketchy people and I just didn’t want to be seen being involved.”
“Well, these f*cking cops walked right to my front door and asked for me.”
“I told them exactly where to find it (again), they walked to the general area, looked for maybe a minute, then walked back to my front door and asked if I could show where it was.”
“So I led them to shell casing while the sketchy neighbors stood on their porch and watched (looking very displeased).”
“Apparently, the fingerprints on the casing matched one of their suspects and he was arrested and went to jail.”
“The cops stopped by a few months later with a $20 giftcard to a sub shop.”~Throwaway_stopdrink
The real villain here is soap.
“I called CrimeStoppers once.”
“The local news released a video of someone violently robbing a store.”
“They beat up the cashier pretty bad.”
“I knew it the second the video started who it was—a guy I used to party with and had spent the night with a few times.”
“The CrimeStopper folks gave me a number to write down to claim the money if he was convicted.”
“I wrote it on my hand then washed it off accidentally like an idiot.”
“It was on the smaller side, I think around $1k, but it would have made a big difference at the time.”
“And the guy did end up getting convicted and is still in prison now.”
“I’m sure a bunch of people called in, though, so I don’t know how much I would have gotten.”
“Anyone who grew up in my area who was around my age would have known the guy.”~yourerightaboutthat
It isn’t always about what you know, but where you are.
“My step-mom got a $25k FBI reward when she came across a girl who had been abducted (and her whole family was murdered).”
“The girl had been held in the cabin next door to my parents’ cabin for about 3 months.”
“The guy who did it left her alone for a couple of hours and she escaped, in the middle of winter in a very cold area.”
“My step-mom was walking her dog in a pretty isolated area and the girl ran up to her; she was obviously very disoriented and traumatized but step-mom helped her escape through the woods to a safe place and call the cops.”
“There was a huge media circus, and although all the reward money ($25k from the FBI and $25k from a local business) was awarded to my step-mom, she concluded that since the girl had technically rescued herself, it was appropriate for the money to go to her.”
“(Apparently there is some rule that you can’t get FBI reward money in a case where you’re either the victim or perpetrator, so the money had to be accepted and then gifted back to the girl.)”
“In the end, the girl got the money and my step-mom got a big tax bill that year because reward money is taxable.”
“She got to be interviewed on national TV by Gayle King though and, y’know, helped save someone’s life.”
“So she’s pretty okay with it.”~cityofdestinyunbound
Usually, though, it’s about who you know.
“One of my wife’s co-workers received a substantial reward for turning in the so-called ’20th hijacker’, Zacarias Moussaoui.”~reg-o-matic
“Worked at a small, local bank.”
“A regular customer comes in and I greeted them by name.”
“They hand their check and a note to me.”
“Note says they have a gun and to hand over all the money in the drawer.”
“I comply and as the customer leaves I push the emergency button.”
“We had all of this person’s info on file and the police caught them at home.”
“Bank recovered the money, person went to jail, and I got a small reward for ‘catching’ them”~mpshanny87
The little laws are always the hardest to avoid.
“Don’t remember the full details but my mom called the cops on some guy who was featured on America’s Most Wanted.”
“Guy was on the run for several things I think but still took time out to get his tag renewed at the DMV.”~whatnameisnttaken098
Even criminals can show kindness.
“My neighbor down the road growing up was always getting into trouble.”
“One day someone robbed a gas station with a gun, and accidentally shot the clerk (so he claimed), and the police didn’t know who did it.”
“After about a month, they offered up a small reward for information.”
“The guy arranged to have his wife turn him in to collect the reward because she would need it since he knew he was going away for a long time.“~samuraidogparty
From terrorists to belligerent hotel guests, all were brought to justice by the power of tip lines.
While the rewards weren’t always substantial, the above stories are really about people working together to keep everyone else safe.
That’s always a good call.