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Classified ad seeks crime informants

Dustin Racioppi
dracioppi@vaildaily.com
Eagle County, CO Colorado

EAGLE COUNTY, Colorado ” Must hang out with crooks, be able to work odd hours in Eagle County, Colorado, and a criminal record is OK.

If you fit that description, you may have yourself a part-time job with the Eagle County Sheriff’s Office, which is taking a new twist on getting confidential informants to help detectives with investigations. It has started placing ads in the newspaper classifieds to lure in potential informants.

“We’re trying to be different,” said Shannon Cordingly, spokeswoman for the Sheriff’s Office.

Following the model of Albuquerque, N.M., police, the Sheriff’s Office saw placing newspaper ads as a way to help in its on-going investigations and hopefully spring new ones.

Since placing the ads in the classified section of the Vail Daily this week, about a dozen calls have come in regarding thefts, burglaries and drugs, Sheriff’s Office’s Detective Lt. Mike McWilliam said.

He couldn’t say anything more because there are now open investigations as a result of the calls.

“We’re hoping it’ll lead to some good investigations,” McWilliam said, adding that drugs are the main focus.

Law enforcement agencies normally use informants to help with investigations, but the minds of the Sheriff’s Office thought a classified ad would work well here in Eagle County. McWilliam said he doesn’t know of other agencies in the state who have taken that approach.

“The verbiage kind of gets people’s attention and figured we’d give it a try,” he said.

The ad calls for “People who hang out with crooks” to do part-time work for the Sheriff’s Office. Confidentiality is guaranteed, it says. And considering the state of the economy, Cordingly and McWilliam both said the timing may be right.

“Especially in our economy today,” McWilliam said. “People are looking for ways to get some extra money.”

Don’t think that it’s easy money, though.

If you have information detectives may want or need, you’ll go through several steps working with deputies to make sure what you’re bringing to them is legit. If it is, then there may be more work for you.

“We don’t just give you $100 and say ‘Go get us drugs and come back next Tuesday,'” McWilliam said. “We’re not going to pay you for ‘maybe in the future’ you get some information. You can tell us all types of great things but if it doesn’t pan out, you won’t get a dime.”

If it does work out though, payouts range from $100 to upwards of $1,000 depending on the information provided, McWilliam said. The money to pay informants comes from money confiscated from previous investigations.

“It’s basically taking money from drug dealers and people like that and using it to get other drug dealers,” McWilliam said.

The Sheriff’s Office will continue running the ads for a couple weeks to see how well it works out. If it proves beneficial to the office, it may not go away.

Staff writer Dustin Racioppi can be reached at 970-748-2936 or dracioppi@vaildaily.com.


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