The History of Thunder Bay Crime Stoppers
The Crime Stoppers story begins in Albuquerque, New Mexico. It was July 1976. Michael Carmen was working at a small gas station in Albuquerque’s Northeast Heights. Two men, armed with a shotgun entered the gas station, robbed it and then shot Michael Carmen. Greg MacAleese, a Canadian born detective working with the Albuquerque Police Department was assigned the case.
Six weeks later MacAleese was no closer to solving the crime. Then he came up with an idea. MacAleese approached a local television station with a proposal to have the crime reenacted. Viewers would be urged to call a tips-line with any information on the murder. Callers would remain completely anonymous and if the information resulted in an arrest a cash reward would be paid out.
The reenactment aired on September 8, 1976. The next morning MacAleese received his first tip. The caller remembered walking home from a party the night Michael Carmen was killed. The caller remembered hearing a loud bang and then a car sped past. The caller didn’t see who was in the vehicle but recalled seeing the vehicle at a nearby apartment complex. That was all the information police needed!
By finding the getaway car MacAleese was able to track down the owner and within 72-hours one of the two suspects was arrested and charged in Michael Carmen’s murder. The second suspect was captured a short time later. That phone call also helped police solve six other armed robberies. It didn’t take long for word of this new crime fighting tool to spread.
Crime Stoppers in Canada
News of the success of the Crime Stoppers program in Albuquerque soon spread to other centres and in 1979 Crime Stoppers USA was born. But the success of this crime fighting tool soon crossed all borders and in 1983 Calgary, Alberta became the first Canadian city to adopt the program. Shortly after that Edmonton joined the ranks and it spread like wildfire throughout the rest of Canada.In 1985 Thunder Bay caught the Crime Stoppers fever and in 1986 the program was up and running. The following year it spread to the rest of the district and committees were established in communities along the North Shore.Since then Crime Stoppers has done its part to help make communities in Northwestern Ontario safer places in which to live.