The short answer is yes but they need to be focussed, legal, able to be actioned immediately and importantly the identity of the person claiming the reward must be protected.
Paragon has recently been running a series of rewards for an insurance company and we have been blown away by the results, in one case we got a call within hours and the vehicle was located that night. Check out our Facebook page
Focussed; You need to carefully select your target audience and Facebook is great for this, with very smart tools.
Legal; There is a minefield to traverse and various pieces of legislation to consider, Crimes Act and Summary Offences Act. I suggest that only persons with experience in dealing with rewards are used or you can find yourself in trouble. Paragon have a process to mitigate the risks.
Able to be actioned; means that you don’t just act on every piece of information or call, because there are nutters out there who will waste your time. Certainly you must act swiftly, but you must do so carefully having regard to privacy and health and safety. The people who steal stuff don’t care too much for your safety. Again, it is best you engage a professional to assist and take their advice.
Secrecy is paramount: anyone giving information and claiming a reward is putting themselves and potentially others at risk, so having a good process to protect these “witnesses” is essential and they need to know that from the moment you talk to them.
Our experience is that there is a huge community spirit and people will come forward if a reward is handled properly. In some historical cases, people might have changed allegiance and will talk to a PI where they won’t talk to Police.
And of course, the big question is how much should you offer? Remember you only want information and you should never deal with the offenders, or agree to buy stolen property back. Just going there is arguably illegal (used to be s262 of The Crimes Act – now repealed but you must have used all due diligence to cause the offender to be brought to trial for their crime and Sections 71, 312 and 117 need to be considered – see the minefields ?) and is definitely immoral. So I suggest if the item has a known value, you are prepared to pay a percentage but you should talk to your PI and let them deal with the callers and the amount.
Finally, it has been known for several callers to want to claim a reward when an item is found (We once recovered a digger that had been stashed in the bush – we had four callers all telling us the same info). You and the callers need to be very clear who is to receive the reward.