Traffic passes the Crime Stop billboard in Grayston Drive, Sandton. Photo: Mujahid Safodien
It is a R740 000 bungle that may cost police valuable information and even prevent the arrest of numerous criminals. The error? One missing zero.
Fifty-eight billboards have been erected across the country to advertise the SAPS’s official tip-off service, Crime Stop. But it was only over the weekend that the public noticed an error that may lead to a few frustrated stool pigeons.
The Crime Stop number, 08600 10111, is missing a zero on these 58 billboards, and so anyone with valuable information regarding criminal activity who dials 0860 10111 will be greeted with a busy tone.
National police spokesman Brigadier Lindela Mashigo said police had already acknowledged the mistake and were in talks to rectify it. The billboard campaign may have set police back almost three quarters of a million rand, but Mashigo said that other broadcast and print advertisements would make sure the public knew the correct number for the hotline.
“We may have lost out on a lot of valuable information and even arrests, but we will be looking into finding a way to solve the issue.” But only a full investigation would reveal if the SAPS, their marketing company or the printers were responsible for the typo, he said. “We will readily admit it if we are in the wrong here, but we still need to confirm exactly where the problem started,” he said.
The billboards have been strategically placed in crime hot spots across SA. One of the most prominent on Grayston Drive in Sandton will remain displayed, with plans to try to add that missing zero through posters or other means.
When will this happen? “As soon as possible,” said Mashigo.
Crime Stop is not to be confused with a similar service run collaboratively by police and Eye Witness News, Crime Line, which can be reached by SMS (costing R1) at 32211.
For anyone wishing to report a crime, or give anonymous tip-offs with crime-related information, contact Crime Stop on the following correct number: 08600 10111