The highest-profile, local reward program for crime-solving tips is San Diego County Crime Stoppers. That organization offers just a fraction of the money paid by other nonprofits and the governor's office. The public has often gotten big bang for those bucks.
Crime Stoppers' re-enactments and reward funds have loosened a lot lips and expedited arrests and convictions, but in the Chelsea King murder case, its $1,000 reward -- plus a $5,000 reward from the Deputy Sheriff's Association -- won't be awarded because law enforcement found her body and put together the case against John Albert Gardner III.
Several sources contributed the $100,000 reward offered in the Amber DuBois disappearance and murder, but authorities aren't saying what led to the discovery of her body, and no charges are filed.
Crime Stoppers has a policy that informants must contact them first to qualify for a reward, if a tip pans out. The policy is intended to filter out false claims, but the organization often waives it in cases where an informant is backed by the police agencies that benefited.
"We've been in business 25 years paying rewards, and we're successful at it," says San Diego Police Officer Jim Johnson, the department's in-house liaison to Crime Stoppers. "And you don't build success by not paying for information ... if we're constantly pulling the money back with lots of strings attached to it, the word gets out on the street real fast, and we stop receiving information."
Since the organization was established in 1984, Crime Stoppers has helped solve more than 3,900 crimes -- 105 of them, homicides.
The governor's office has a $40,000 reward out in the DuBois case, but it's not payable until there's a conviction.