Sunday turned out to be a picture-perfect weather day, but that didn’t keep a wave of thunder from rolling across Palm Beach County.
Around 600 motorcyclists took advantage of the cool temperatures and sunny skies to take part in “Cruizin’ for Crime Stoppers,” a fundraiser for the program that allows individuals to anonymously call in tips regarding criminal activity for cash rewards. The 57-mile ride, which received an escort from members of the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s motorcycle unit, began at a parking lot at Southern Boulevard and U.S. 441 in Royal Palm Beach. Riders followed a circuitous route to the west and then back north, finishing at Abacoa Town Center.
“It was so exciting seeing that many bikes,” said Rosanna Jimenez, the owner of Nature’s Way Cafe in downtown Lake Worth who rode her brand-new Harley-Davidson to the event. “And you didn’t have to stop. That was the best part.”
Organizers expect Sunday’s ride to clear around $10,000. Those donations will go directly into operational costs and rewards for Crime Stoppers tipsters, who last year were awarded $60,000 for information that led to the arrests of criminals, according to Sgt. Jim DeFago, coordinator for Crime Stoppers in Palm Beach County and a 32-year-member of the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office.
Since its inception in 1981, Crime Stoppers of Palm Beach County has help resolve nearly 7,800 cases, including 115 homicides, according to its website. A student Crime Stoppers began for county schools in 1994 has led to the confiscation of 25 loaded guns, program President Anthony Genovese said.
Individuals are eligible for up to $1,000 in rewards. The more serious the crime, the bigger the reward. DeFago said less than 50 percent of tipsters collect a reward, “so people are doing it for the right reasons.”
“People want to get involved, but sometimes they don’t want to get directly involved because they’re afraid of peer pressure or retribution,” DeFago said. “This gives you the chance to tell what you know and put a bad guy behind bars without being on the witness stand.”
Lake Worth resident Karen Duarte, riding a Honda Shadow, said she enjoyed the “great camaraderie” of Sunday’s drive, not just from her fellow bikers but other motorists who waved and gave thumbs-up salutes.
“It’s a smart way to raise money,” said Duarte, an employee at the Palm Beach County Medical Examiner. “You got to raise it somehow, and this was a nice event.”