Local cops hope site offering gift cards can help find persons of interest
By Matt Hanley firstname.lastname@example.org August 26, 2011 2:10PM
One of the photos submitted by local police to idthisperson.com, a new website that pays members of the public $25 if they can identify persons of interest to police.
Updated: November 27, 2011 1:22PM
It’s a common problem for police, especially on retail theft cases. Quite often, they’ll get a good surveillance photo of their suspect — or someone who was with their suspect — but if the person is from out of town, a face doesn’t do much good. The case will sit for a few months and eventually go cold.
Now, several local police departments are hoping a new website can expand their efforts to identify persons of interest. The website, idthisperson.com, offers people $25 gift cards if they can help the police identify people who may have crucial information. Police in Oswego, Yorkville, Aurora, Montgomery and St. Charles have already signed up for the service, which was created by two police officers.
“There’s a lot of tools out there to solve crime, but this is a unique tool that involves law enforcement working with the public,” said Oswego Police Detective Rob Sherwood. “When you actually have a picture of a person of interest, you make it a lot easier to solve that case.”
Police are able to submit photos to the website. Not all the pictures are necessarily suspects in the case, but they are at least people that police believe have more information about the crime.
The public is then able to go onto the site and search for pictures in their area. Each picture has almost no information attached to it and no details about why police are looking for the person. At this point, most are just an image of a person walking out of a store or at a cash register, although police could load photos related to any sort of crime.
Underneath the picture, the public is asked whether they know the person’s name or nickname, where they hang out and any other information that might help police, like what car they drive.
All of the info can be submitted anonymously, although to be eligible for the $25 gift card, the person must enter their e-mail address. Any information submitted to the site is forwarded to the police department that submitted the pictures. If the identification turns out to be correct, and even if the person is not arrested, the member of the public receives a $25 gift card. The person making the identification never has to talk to police to be eligible for the gift card.
Right now, the site is free to law enforcement and is paid for by some minimal ads on the site.
Oswego police have already submitted some pictures to the site. So far, they haven’t solved any crimes through idthisperson.com, but Sherwood believes it’s only a matter of time.
“It is Crime Stoppers on steroids,” he said. “Right now, there’s no one place for the public to go to look at pictures of people that police want to talk to.”