Crime Stoppers is formed of active volunteers dedicated to their community. We offer a way for police forces to obtain information from the public to support their crime prevention efforts. These result in criminal arrests as well as seizure of stolen goods and narcotics. All our communities benefit.
When Michael Carmen, a young college student in Albuquerque, New Mexico in the United States, was killed during a service-station burglary in that city in June 1976, Detective Greg MacAleese had no prospective suspects.
No witness came forward and this totally gratuitous and extremely brutal murder apparently remained a mystery.
MacAleese, who had worked as a reporter before joining the police, knew that something different had to be done to encourage the public to come forward with information. Innovation was absolutely necessary. For help with his case, he turned to former coworkers.
He came up with the idea of producing a video re-enactment of the crime for broadcast. Anyone providing information would be guaranteed anonymity and be eligible for a reward. The purpose of this reward was to encourage wavering witnesses to disclose information in their possession. He hoped to obtain at least a good lead.
Such measures seemed almost wishful thinking to solve this crime, but MacAleese held fast. The murder had outraged the community and should have led several witnesses to provide information.
Carmen was just two weeks away from getting married and was working overtime to earn a little money for his rent. When the police responded to Carmen’s call, they found him seriously injured, with a 12-gauge bullet wound in his abdomen.
The medical team tried to keep Carmen alive so he could identify the people responsible, but there was little they could do.
During this period, Albuquerque had one of the highest per capita crime rates and citizens were afraid to help the police.
MacAleese’s plan worked. Just a few hours after his report aired, a witness appeared. The video images helped this person remember seeing a car pulling away from the service station at the same time as the murder. The vehicle belonged to a resident of the neighbourhood.
The investigation that followed led to the identification and arrest of two men. Both were charged with murder of the young Carmen. These men were also linked to several robberies in the region.
MacAleese received several other calls, including one that led to the arrest of a suspect responsible for a particularly violent rape committed earlier. When he realized that this type of program could be beneficial for the police and citizens, MacAleese convinced the authorities to let a group of citizens form what would become the world’s first Crime Stoppers program.
For his efforts, detective MacAleese was named one of the most influential people of the 1970s in the United States, in addition to being named Police Officer of the Year in the United States. It is also very important to note that since creation of the Crime Stoppers program, Albuquerque’s crime rate has declined considerably and is no longer among the 20 highest in the country.