Inmates Help Police Fight Crime with the Tips for Cash Program

Inmates at the Nueces County Jail, some who were actually caught as a result of Crime Stoppers, are now reportedly taking part in a similar program that allows them to earn money, while at the same time helping law officers to solve crimes.

The program has been in place for a little more than a year, and what it does is offer inmates the opportunity to do some good.

Nueces County Sheriff Jim Kaelin said he believes that at least 90-percent of inmates in the Nueces County Jail can provide some sort of clues to many of the crimes that happen here.

"Are your commissary supplies running low? You can do something about this and help your community at the same time," Kaelin said.

A video on the Cash for Tips program airs throughout the day on the jails closed circuit television system, showing inmates how simply dialing a four-digit number on a jail phone and providing anonymous information could earned them cash. The call automatically connects them to Crime Stoppers.

Inmates will get an ID number, and if their tip helps crack a case, they get cash.

Kaelin said the program helped crack one case that netted three inmates $5,000.

"That's money in the back for you to use in the commissary, or cash for your family," Kaelin said. "And it wasn't until we offered a $5,000 reward that the phone rang off the wall, and this guy didn't have any friends once $5,000 hit the table. Even though we had a picture of him, we still didn't know who he was."

Kaelin was referring to a crime that involved a home invasion of a house on County Road 49-A, near the airport. Once inside, 32-year old Michael Clack held up an elderly couple and their daughter. He got away with cash, ATM cards and credit cards, and he also took a laptop; but when he tried to use the cards at three different locations, all of them captured the man on tape. Those images got the inmates talking, and soon after, Clack was arrested in San Antonio, proving the program works.

"People don't think they work," Kaelin said. "There's no honor among thieves."

Kaelin said that the Tips for Cash ad on the jail television system will continue to run throughout the day as it has for the past year, adding that there are always inmates who are willing to talk, when the price is right.


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