If you are a victim of a crime or witness a crime, you may have second thoughts about reporting it. You may think reporting the crime is more trouble than it's worth, as happened with the infamous murder of Kitty Genovese in the 1960s. But instead of ignoring the crime, you may want to consider reporting it anonymously.
Some of the benefits of reporting a crime anonymously are that it may encourage you to report it in the first place. Other benefits can include leaving you out of it.
However, there are some drawbacks to anonymous reporting as well.
For example, police may not be able to use you as a witness and could have a harder time finding the perpetrator.
Whether you want to anonymously report a crime is an individual decision you have to weigh. If you do choose to go this route, you should know there are typically several options to make an anonymous report:
- Visit a police website. Most police departments provide a link on their website that allows you to email an anonymous report. The New York Police Department's Crime Stoppers Website is a good example. Simply fill out the report and click send. However, some skeptics point out that nothing is really anonymous online. Still, depending upon the crime, it's uncertain if the police will go through the trouble of tracking you down.
- Call the police hotline. Just as the police may provide a website link to anonymously report crime, they may also offer a hotline or tipline to make a call. Again, skeptics can point out that police could potentially trace back anonymous calls to their source.
- Use a public phone. If you can find a public pay phone (yes, some still exist), you can better ensure your anonymity with a call. In the alternative, you may also be able to make an anonymous report by using a phone at a public place like a gas station or convenience store.
In this day and age of surveillance cameras and Internet snoops, it may be nearly impossible to do anything, much less report a crime, anonymously. However, you should remember that reporting a crime is usually better than not reporting a crime at all.
- Too Many 911 Calls Can Get You Arrested (FindLaw's Blotter)
- Etan Patz Case: When Must You Report a Confession? (FindLaw's Blotter)
- When Can Police Search Cell Phones, Laptops? (FindLaw's Blotter)
- Who Has a Duty to Report Child Abuse? (FindLaw's Blotter)