TAMPA (FOX 13) - We hear it all the time: report a crime, remain anonymous, and collect a reward from CrimeStoppers.
But one tipster is missing out on a big reward, even though he probably saved a woman's life.
CrimeStoppers wants to clear the confusion about when the program will write a check, and when it’s better to just call 911.
A Walgreens parking lot is the scene of one of the most horrific moments in Summers’ life, but it's also where a complete stranger may have saved her life.
“If they hadn't started looking for me right away, the 911 call that came in immediately from this parking lot, it would've delayed them getting the word out to start looking for me,” Summers explained.
In March, an employee at that Walgreens called 911 after seeing a woman screaming, hands bound behind her back, and being forced into an SUV. That's how police first learned that Summers, a mom of five, had been kidnapped by her estranged husband, Trevor Summers.
Alerts went out to the media. Two days later, CrimeStoppers offered a $3,000 reward for information leading to an arrest.
“I was to the point where I was in and out of consciousness. I could have been moments away from being dead,” Alisa Summers recalled.
Another call to 911, by a man who spotted the SUV, led to her rescue and put her ex-husband behind bars. But neither tipster received a reward from CrimeStoppers.
“I felt that they deserved the reward because I wouldn't be here today if neither of them hadn't called 911,” Summers said.
But CrimeStoppers Tampa Bay President and Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office Public Information Officer Debbie Carter says that's not how the system works.
“I understand the family wants to reward them and I think that's great, but in order to be eligible for the reward it has to go through CrimeStoppers,” Carter explained.
To get the cash, a tipster must call CrimeStoppers, first. Then they should call 911 – even in an emergency. That doesn't make sense to Alisa Summers.
“I believe that they should change their policies. I feel that those minutes could cost someone their life, those minutes of calling a tip into CrimeStoppers as opposed to just calling 911,” Summers said.
Carter, who works for both agencies, says HCSO deputies responded to the 911 call that saved Summers’ life. She says tips to CrimeStoppers are immediately forwarded to law enforcement.
“People just want to do the right thing so they can call 911 or CrimeStoppers,” Carter said.
FOX 13’s Kellie Cowan asked, “Is calling 911 first… in a situation like this one, the right thing?”
“Absolutely,” Carter responded. “You want immediate assistance.”
FOX 13 reached out to the tipsters who called 911 to help Summers. Both have said they wish to remain anonymous and are simply relieved Alisa is OK. Trevor Summers, meanwhile, remains behind bars.