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Crime Stoppers Places signs along county roads to increase visibility, help fight crime

VAN ZANDT, August 4, 2014— In an effort to make sure people all over the county are aware of Van Zandt County Crime Stoppers and the rewards it gives out for anonymous tips, the group has started putting up large signs along various local roads.

So far, the group has put up three four-by-eight-foot signs that highlight the rewards it gives out for tips that lead to the arrests of wanted criminals and give the group's anonymous phone number.

"We want to raise awareness among people who might have information about crimes but are reluctant to call the authorities," explained Kathy Smith, president of Van Zandt County Crime Stoppers. "We are putting these signs in areas either where there is high visibility and they will be seen by a lot of people, or in areas where there is high crime and we want to let criminals know they should be worried."

Among the locations where signs have been placed are along State Highway 243 in Canton near Walmart, on FM 1255 north of I-20, and in the far northwest corner of Van Zandt County. More signs are planned, and Crime Stoppers welcomes property owners in high-crime or high-visibility areas to volunteer to host one of the signs.

"This is a very cost-effective way to keep people thinking about Crime Stoppers and remind them that they can earn generous rewards by calling in tips about crimes and about people who are wanted by the sheriff or city police departments," Smith said.

She also expressed the group's thanks to Johnny Flowers and Canton Lumber Co. for their donations of building materials, to Henry Lewis for hosting a sign, and to Van Zandt County Sheriff Lindsey Ray and Lt. Jerry Cato for their assistance in acquiring volunteers to install the signs.

Van Zandt County Crime Stoppers offers two anonymous options – phone calls and online tip reporting – for people who want to obtain rewards of up to $1,000 by providing information that leads to an arrest. Funds for rewards and operations of the organization come from court and jury fees and from donations.

Tipsters can call 903-567-STOP (567-7867) or submit a tip through the vanzandtcrimestoppers.org website via their computer or mobile phone. Every tip receives a special code number, and when an arrest is made and a reward approved by the Crime Stoppers board, the tipster can call the tip line again for instructions on how to collect the cash reward.

Photo: Crime Stoppers board members Doug Smith, left, and Ron Josias at the sign on FM 1255 that the group erected.

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