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Postcard campaign aims to stamp out gun crime

Postcards urging citizens to help stamp out gun crime will be sent to more than 20,000 homes in Bermuda as part of a new Crime Stoppers campaign.The charity is today launching the initiative, which has the theme “Money for Guns”, to tie in with The Royal Gazette’s new series on unsolved gang murders.It was prompted by the spate of 16 gang-related fatal shootings which have rocked Bermuda since May 2009 and aims to raise awareness about illegal guns circulating among criminals within the community.Crime Stoppers, which is run entirely by volunteers, has raised enough in donations to send postcards to 23,000 households on the Island, as well as run radio commercials and newspaper adverts, urging citizens to divulge any information they have on guns.Those who do could be in line for a substantial payout as Crime Stoppers Bermuda has a $100,000 reward pot to dish out to those providing information which leads to the recovery of a firearm or the conviction of a shooter.Crime Stoppers administrative director Alex MacDonald said: “This campaign will take the theme ‘Money for Guns’ and will highlight cash rewards for information that helps the police recover and/or seize a firearm. The objective is to obtain the support of the community.“The campaign came from an idea that National Security Minister Wayne Perinchief had. There’s a lot of people that know what’s going on in the Island but they are still a little intimidated to talk about it to anyone.“What we are trying to put over is that Crime Stoppers is completely anonymous. We want to highlight the fact that any little piece of information about firearms or who may have firearms could help police put together the jigsaw.”Mr Perinchief, one of the founders of Crime Stoppers Bermuda, said he hoped the “complete anonymity” of the scheme would encourage those with information to pass it on.“That person would never give evidence in a court of law but they could provide the means for police to identify the suspects and arrest them. It’s then up to the police to get the evidence.”The Minister added: “Crime Stoppers has never given up the identity of a witness, even under great duress.”The charity’s “postcard to Bermuda” reads:“Dear Neighbour, Do you think that Bermuda’s gun violence isn’t really your problem? Do you really believe that it won’t ever happen in your neighbourhood? Or to someone you know? Because, while you may not have been affected personally or directly by any of the deaths or injuries that have taken place, rest assured, each and every person living in Bermuda is affected by these senseless crimes. How can you be absolutely certain that your husband, mother, son or daughter is safe wherever they go? Surely we all have the right to go where we like, without fear of someone getting shot, don’t we?“So, let’s all stop putting our heads in the sand and help take guns off the streets. We can do it together. Just call Crime Stoppers if you have any information about guns in our community. It’s easy and completely confidential. We don’t want to see anyone else get shot!”l The Crime Stoppers Bermuda number is 800-8477 [TIPS] and is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The website is www.crimestoppers.bm.