The Crime Stoppers Program was developed by Greg MacAleese. MacAleese was a detective with the Albuquerque, New Mexico Police Department, involved in a homicide investigation in 1976. Albuquerque at that time had the distinction of being, on a per capita basis, one of the top ten cities in the United States for crime.
The particular crime that MacAleese was investigating involved the homicide of a young gas station attendant. The attendant was working the late shift at a gas bar when two males pulled up in a vehicle. One of the males got out of the vehicle and entered the gas bar carrying a sawed-off shotgun. The suspect proceeded to rob the store and for no apparent reason, other than to eliminate the clerk as a witness, shot him point blank in the stomach. The clerk died a few hours after the shooting.
MacAleese was very frustrated by this senseless murder, and the fact that there was no forensic evidence present, such as fingerprints, photos, or witnesses. He appealed to the public for assistance and went so far as to produce the first re-enactment aired on local television. The resulting media blitz appealed to the public to call into a special telephone line with information regarding the murder. Information leading to the arrest of the person responsible would be rewarded with cash. Within hours of the broadcast, a young man called in with some information. “I should have thought of this before, but I may know something regarding this crime. I got off work myself around that time, and was riding my bike home when I heard a loud bang. I thought it was just the backfire of a car especially when seconds later a yellow and black ’69 Charger went zipping by. There were two people inside, it was too dark to see their faces, but I know that car from around here. I’ve seen it in the neighborhood before.” The investigators then did a grid search back from the scene of the crime and found the vehicle in an apartment complex. As it turned out, the owner had been lending his vehicle on weekends to a couple of “friends”. The friends then used the vehicle to do several armed robberies and had been responsible for a total of four homicides. The two individuals were sentenced to life in prison with no chance of parole.
The components of the Crime Stoppers Program initiated by Detective MacAleese are now some of the most effective crime fighting tools in policing. In 1976, Albuquerque, New Mexico, was in the top ten cities for crime per capita, but within three years fell out of the top 100.