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Article posted: 12/7/2012 5:30 AM

St. Charles wants crime tips via Internet

By James Fuller

St. Charles residents or visitors can now not only report crimes to police online, but they can also help police by submitting evidence along with their anonymous tips.

The city's police department recently launched a form on its website, stcharlesil.gov/report-crimedrug-tip, where witnesses to crimes or citizens with information that may help an investigation can pass their information along with just a few keystrokes and mouse clicks.

The Web form allows for information about possible suspect names, locations of incidents and a summary of the criminal activity. There is also an option to upload a photo of the suspect or incident to the complaint form of up to 2MB.

Tipsters can choose to submit the information anonymously or leave contact information for police to ask possible follow-up questions about the tip.

St. Charles isn't alone in offering an alternative to reporting crimes or suspicious activity beyond the standard 911 or nonemergency call. Elgin has a similar online form. Aurora, Carol Stream, Gurnee and the Kane County sheriff's office have even partnered with a private company to allow people to send in crime information through anonymous text messages.

St. Charles, like many police departments, also maintains an anonymous tip phone line. By calling 1-866-378-4267 citizens can leave a voice message that is then reviewed by police personnel and potentially shared with other law enforcement agencies. For example, drug tips are passed along to the North Central Narcotics Task Force.

St. Charles police officials reported in April that calls for police assistance were at a 10-year low in 2011 with 16,168 calls. Numbers for 2012 won't be available until 2013.

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