Higher Rewards Could Help Hit and Run Epidemic

San Diego County Crime Stoppers wants to offer more money to tipsters with information regarding fatal hit and run accidents across San Diego County, given the uptick in hit and runs

San Diego Crime Stoppers is looking for ways to help put an end to a recent rash of deaths stemming from hit and run accidents.

The solution could mean big money for tipsters with information helping to solve these crimes, which appear to be happening more frequently across San Diego County.

In Los Angeles, for example, the number of hit and run incidents is so high that police are now crafting a program that would pay rewards of up to $50,000 for a conviction.

San Diego's recent spike in hit and runs has Crime Stoppers also looking for a source with deep pockets to help create an incentive that would shake loose more information.

On Jan. 31, motorcyclist and Old Globe prop master Seamus O'Bryan was killed by a hit and run driver in a white sedan.

Three days later, 23-year-old Benjamin Ramirez was hit by a white box truck while walking home from work in Escondido. The vehicle slowed then left the scene.

Not a week after that, San Ysidro senior Alonso Flores Pacheco, 81, was killed right in front of his son. Pacheco was hit crossing the street by a car that just kept going.

“You've got to know who the suspect is. That's the issue you have," Crime Stoppers Officer Jim Johnson said, discussing the challenges of solving these frequent crimes.

A rash of hit-and-run incidents has San Diego Crime Stoppers pursuing more tips and higher rewards for convictions.

“If they are not willing to call for $1,000, maybe they'll call for $10,000. Every case is different,” Johnson said.

Currently Crime Stoppers offers $1,000 for tips leading to convictions in felony cases. Arson is the only crime with a $10,000 "restricted" reward.

“That restricted rewards money is earmarked," Johnson said. "Crime Stoppers holds specifically for a type of case or type of crime."

Eyewitnesses are key to solving hit and run crimes.

Without them, the trail goes cold quickly.

“By adding that additional money it might generate more interest in the community and the media as well,” Johnson said.

Often times victim's families add money to the reward. Johnson is hoping to find other private donors or even local governments to fund a hit and run restricted rewards program in San Diego.

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