TIP LINE TO OFFER REWARDS FOR CHOP SHOP INFORMATION
PHILADELPHIA, February 5, 1998 -- Attacking the most frequently committed crime in Philadelphia, State Senator Vincent Fumo and the Citizens' Crime Commission of the Delaware Valley today announced a reward program for information leading to the arrest of automobile chop shop operators.
Persons with information on Philadelphia chop shops -- where stolen vehicles are disassembled for sale of their parts -- can anonymously call the Crime Commission's tip line, which is manned 24 hours a day. The number is 546-8477, (546-TIPS.)
The Crime Commission will accept the information, turn it over to law enforcement authorities, and assign the caller a code number. If the information supplied leads to the arrest of a chop shop criminal, the caller can use his code number to claim a reward up to $1,000. Callers never have to provide their identity.
"Vehicle thefts and break-ins are a huge crime problem in Philadelphia, and chop shops are a major reason," said Fumo, a Democrat who represents the First Senatorial District. "They are so widespread and so bold that their existence is often common knowledge on the street. We hope to use that against them."
Stolen vehicles often bring more for their parts then they do if sold intact, making chop shops a key component of the car-theft crime economy. In Philadelphia, 46 percent of all crimes committed are either vehicle thefts or break-ins, making car-related offenses the largest single category of offense (22 percent thefts, 24 percent break-ins.) More than 20,000 cars are stolen annually in Philadelphia, and only about eight percent of those cases result in arrests.
Philadelphia's auto theft rate is three times the national average and nearly twice the average of New York City's.
"If we are to make our citizens feel safe and our visitors feel welcome, we have to reduce car thefts and break-ins," Fumo said.
According to FBI estimates, car-related crimes cost Philadelphia motorists about $129 million annually. That doesn't take into consideration the higher auto insurance premiums that everyone pays, Fumo noted.
Fumo approached the Crime Commission with the idea of offering rewards for chop shop tips, then secured funds for the program.
The Citizens' Crime Commission of the Delaware Valley, founded in 1955, is a non-profit organization supported by corporate sponsorship and its own fund-raising activities. It has more than 100 members in southeastern Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Delaware.
Although the tip line welcomes information on chop shops and car theft from throughout the Delaware Valley, rewards are offered only for information concerning chop shops within the City of Philadelphia.
Copyright 2000 Sen. Vincent J. Fumo