Your thumbs could help solve a crime

Your thumbs could help solve a crime »Play Video
SEATTLE -- Your thumbs could help solve a crime.

If your text messaging is limited to getting in touch with your bf, it's time to add some new lingo. Seattle Police and CrimeStoppers want to turn your cell phone into a crime-fighting tool.

Tipsters send an anonymous tip to "CRIMES" (274637), leading off the message with "TIP 486."

That's a local identifier for the Puget Sound region.

Next, write a message about the crime, and yes, texting shorthand is OK.

"We are distributing a sheet now to teach all our people all the short lingos," said Ron Conlin with CrimeStoppers. "Like 'LOL.' I thought that meant lots of love. Actually it means lots of laughs."

Actually, 'LOL' means "laughing out loud."

That confusion had Seattle Police Chief Gil Kerlikowske joking.

"We're gonna contract with some high school kids to do some interpretation for us," he laughed.

But Kerlikowske is the first to say the tip texting program is no laughing matter. He believes young people could provide critical information.

The CrimeStoppers in Boston has actually received text messages while the crime scene is still fresh. Because they're not on the phone, no one else can overhear them. And they're sending that information saying we just want to let you know what's going on.

And the tips are anonymous. A complicated system bounces the information through multiple servers around the world.

"The identity never reaches our country," Conlin said. "It's quite safe and quite secure."

Seattle is just the third city in the country to launch a text-a-tip program, behind Cincinnati and Boston.

In that city, text message tips already helped solve two murder cases.

You can see more about the program at www.crimestoppers-ps.com