A group of Washington Retailers announced a plan yesterday to pay rewards of $100 to $1,000 for information about crimes against their stores.
The rewards are meant to stem an increase in burglary, robbery, shoplifting and internal theft against retailers, said Robert Mulligan, vice chairman of Woodward & Lothrop and chairman of the retail bureau of the Greater Washington Board of Trade.
The program is meant "to warn professional thieves, to warn the criminals in our society that as long as one person knows about a crime, there's a good chance that person will come forward," said Lewis Shealy, vice president of security at Woodies and chairman of a board of trade committee that created the plan.
Impetus for the reward program came after a major burglary at the Woodward & Lothrop store in Annapolis two years ago. The company offered a $10,000 reward for information and "a mother turned her son in after three days," Shealy said at a press conference to announce the program.
Thirty-nine merchants are participating in the plan sponsored by the board of trade, ranging from individual shops to the area's biggest supermarket, drug, book, home improvement and department store chains.
Persons with information about crimes against any of the participating stores can call a special reward hotline number, 347-5757, Shealy explained. If the tip leads to the arrest and indictment of criminals, the caller qualifies for a reward.
The size of the reward will be determined by a merchant's committee; in addition to the basic $100 to $1,000 rewards, several merchants will offer bonuses of up to $10,000 for information about crimes in which persons are injured or killed. [TEXT OMITTED FROM SOURCE]junction with present Crime Solvers programs already under way in Montgomery, Prince George's and Fairfax counties.
Using the same procedures utilized by Crime Solvers, callers will be given a code number ot identify them and can arrange to claim their reward anonymously, in cash.
Shealy said the program will offer rewards based on the arrest and indictment of suspects rather than their conviction in court to provide immediate feedback and quick incentives to persons with information about crime. Trials can take months, he said, and for the program to succeed it must offer quick rewards.
Like the board of trade's previous drives against shoplifting, credit-card fraud and bad-check writing, the reward program will be launched with an extensive advertising campaign. The Board of Trade has budgeted $35,000 fro three months of billboard and newspaper advertising and may extend the drive.