The Modesto area CrimeStoppers program began in June 2005 with the goal of capturing 100 suspects by June 2008.
The program achieved that goal three weeks before its self-imposed deadline with the May 7 arrest of Benny Maines, 33, who was wanted on suspicion of vehicle theft and domestic violence.
Carla Castro is a Modesto police community service officer and director of the CrimeStoppers program. She said there is a lot to celebrate with the program's three-year anniversary approaching next month.
"When you see all that has happened in the last three years, it really is amazing," Castro said. "CrimeStoppers is a reflection of our community's commitment to getting criminals off the street. When you see the accomplishments over the last three years, you are really seeing what our communities are capable of."
Castro said Maines' arrest was a prime example of how the CrimeStoppers program works. A tipster called the hot line to report Maines was in a Turlock neighborhood, so the Stanislaus County Auto Theft Task Force responded with the Turlock police and arrested Maines coming out of a house.
"The arrest itself wasn't big or unusual, but to the CrimeStoppers program it marked a milestone," Castro said.
Sgt. Craig Gundlach said several news media outlets regularly profile suspects on the CrimeStoppers most-wanted list, including The Modesto Bee, the English/Spanish-language news publication Vida en el Valle, the Oakdale Leader and the Ceres Courier.
"Without the commitment from these organizations, we would not be successful," Castro said. "They are the ones who are putting the faces of these suspects in front of the public."
Gundlach said Maines' capture capped a recent series of successful apprehensions.
On April 22, two suspects profiled in The Bee's CrimeStoppers feature were arrested: Miguel Avina, 25, wanted on suspicion of robbery, and Andre Trevell Leggett, 28, wanted on suspicion of assault with a deadly weapon and shooting at an inhabited dwelling.
The two suspects were not connected to each other, and both arrests were the result of anonymous tips to the CrimeStoppers hotline, said Gundlach, a Modesto police spokesman.
The Modesto area CrimeStoppers offers rewards to callers who provide information about crimes, including tips about armed gang members.
"There have been numerous gang-related shootings throughout our communities, and we are hoping that citizens will take advantage of this tool," Castro said. "There are people out there who have information about gangs but are afraid to speak out."
Law enforcement agencies participating in the Modesto Area CrimeStoppers program include the Modesto, Newman, Turlock, Ceres and Oakdale police departments, the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation parole office in Modesto and the Stanislaus County Sheriff's Department.
Beginning May 27, the Modesto area office of the California Highway Patrol will join the CrimeStoppers program.
For more information about the program or to view suspectswanted in the Modesto area, go to the CrimeStoppers Web site at www.modestopolice.com/crimestoppers. To provide a tip, call 521-4636.
Bee staff writer Rosalio Ahumada can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 578-2394.