In lieu of calling 911 or you local police station when you need to report a crime anonymously, now you can do so via text messaging. And it's too easy! At least according this article in today's Examiner it is. A brilliant idea, right?

All you have to do is this: Text "TIP584 [insert dramatic tale of criminal wrongdoing]," and then send it to 274637 -- or CRIMES. After that, you'll receive a response "within 5 to 10 seconds" giving a code number. Text that code number, and then you can "conduct a two-way dialogue with law enforcement totally anonymously.”

But the texts don't go directly to the police. While the Examiner says that "Bay Area law enforcement officials are urging residents to instead help collar criminals through text messages," your tips first go to Crime Stoppers, the nonprofit that offers cash rewards to anonymous tipsters. Which? Seems strange. Why do even need Crime Stoppers? Why can't the messages go directly to the cops? What are the police for, then? Are Crime Stoppers saying they can do a better job? And if the Ex reporter is correct, and law enforcement folks advocate using Crime Stoppers instead of the police, has law enforcement just given up? Strange.

Anyway, the service will allegedly double the volume of tips. A huge public-information campaign is expected to launch in a couple of months, but you can usethe system today.