DALLAS, TEXAS – The Dallas police senior corporal who heads the Crime Stoppers program is on administrative leave and another woman was arrested in connection with an investigation into missing funds from the popular tips-for-cash program.
Dallas police public integrity investigators on Wednesday served a search warrant at the office of Senior Cpl. Theadora Ross, 49, where she oversees the department’s Crime Stoppers program in the basement of the Bank of America building at 400 S. Zang Blvd.
Ross, a 25-year department veteran, has not been charged with a crime but has been on leave since May 27 pending a public integrity unit criminal investigation. She has led the Crime Stoppers program for the department since 2003 and previously spent seven years as an internal affairs investigator.
She declined to comment Friday.
Authorities suspect that thousands of dollars of Crime Stoppers cash is missing.
“We don’t know yet how much has been taken or compromised,” said Dallas Police First Assistant Chief Charlie Cato. “Crime Stoppers is a very big deal, and any money missing from it is a very big deal,” he said.
He said the department has strengthened security measures within the program, but he declined to elaborate.
Russell Verney, executive director of the North Texas Crime Commission, which administers Crime Stoppers for Dallas and Collin counties, said Friday that he is aware of the police investigation.
“I’m confident that it will be a thorough investigation and will resolve the matter quickly,” Verney said. He declined to discuss the scope of the inquiry.
Crime Stoppers works by soliciting anonymous tips from the public. If a tip leads to prosecution of a suspect, the successful tipster can receive up to $5,000. On average, the program, which uses money from fees paid by probationers, pays informants about $150,000 annually.
To preserve their anonymity, callers are given a secret number that they present to the bank in order to collect.
Dallas police first were alerted to problems with Crime Stoppers two months ago when a man who had earned a reward through the program went to a bank to claim his money and was told that someone else had already collected it.
Police were led to Ross by Malva Delley, 35, of Dallas. Details about the relationship between Ross and Delley – who does not work for the Police Department – have been unavailable.
According to an arrest warrant affidavit, on April 6, Delley went to the Chase Bank in the 2100 block of Pearl Street and gave a teller a Crime Stoppers tip number along with a code word in an attempt to collect a reward. The teller told her that the reward money had already been collected by someone else minutes earlier, police say.
The teller told detectives that Delley returned to the bank “at a later date to collect more Crime Stoppers reward money,” the warrant states.
Delley was arrested on May 27 – the same day Ross was placed on leave – and booked into Lew Sterrett Justice Center on suspicion of misdemeanor attempted theft.
She cooperated with investigators and gave them a written statement, according to court documents. She told authorities that it was Ross who “provided her with confidential Crime Stoppers information which she used in an attempt to collect Crime Stoppers reward money that did not belong to either of them,” documents show.
Delley was released May 28 on a $500 bond. She hung up the phone on a reporter Friday when contacted at her Mountain Creek-area home.
On June 1, another Crime Stoppers officer, Senior Cpl. Jose Jimenez, “discovered that confidential documents” were missing from the office, court records show.
Investigators reviewed surveillance footage from the Crime Stoppers office on Zang. Images from between 8 and 8:25 p.m. on May 27 showed Ross and an unidentified woman leaving the office “with a cardboard file box and dragging a large garbage bag full of unknown property,” court records state.