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‘When citizens take the law into their own hands, things can go wrong’: Kelowna RCMP

Click to play video: 'RCMP warn public not to take action against thieves'
RCMP warn public not to take action against thieves
RCMP warn public not to take action against thieves – Jul 29, 2022

Mounties are cautioning residents compelled to join a group called Take Back Kelowna to leave crime fighting to the professionals, noting that it can be dangerous.

The group, seemingly fashioned from a similar one in the South Okanagan called Clean Streets Penticton, organizes residents to share information about stolen property and suspected thieves.

Then they go about recovering property and returning it to its rightful owner.

Click to play video: 'Seniors addressing crime in their Kelowna building say they’re getting backlash from city'
Seniors addressing crime in their Kelowna building say they’re getting backlash from city

 

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The message from Kelowna Mounties sent out Friday acknowledges that thefts and property damage in the city are ongoing and frustrating issues taking away from the sense of safety within the community. They ask, however, that dealing with it be left in the hands of professionals.

“Citizens have the right to feel safe in their communities but when citizens take the law into their own hands, things can go wrong, very quickly. It is easy to find yourself in a dangerous situation, or in legal hot water,” Const. Mike Della-Paolera said in a press release.

Read more: Penticton RCMP recover ‘tons’ of undelivered mail inside stolen truck

“Crimes are never victimless, therefore need to be reported to the police no matter how insignificant they appear to some. Reporting assists in directing and prioritizing police resources.”

RCMP said that work is being done to curb crime. However, the propensity for prolific property crime is on the rise as a result of complex social issues coupled with offenders who perpetually re-offend because of a set approach in the justice system.

Click to play video: 'Kelowna report suggests changes to address prolific offenders'
Kelowna report suggests changes to address prolific offenders

Offering an example, RCMP said that on May 29, prolific offender Daniel Wiest, 31, was arrested after compiling at least 18 charges related to break and enters throughout Kelowna. The offences occurred over a period of two months and CCTV assisted the police in recommending charges.

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Another example was June 30, when Bryce Williamson, 33, was arrested after a one-month project. Over 50 charges have been recommended against Williamson by the Kelowna RCMP and $80,000 of stolen property recovered.

Both individuals are still in custody.

Read more: Penticton, B.C. group recovers stolen items as RCMP warn against vigilantism

“Although our community wants quick results, our officers will not act outside of their lawful authorities. As a result of changes in case law, police investigations are far more complex than they were even a decade ago and repeat offenders are being released into the community without adequate support and care for criminal activity that is driven by addictions and mental health issues,” RCMP said.

“Like the health system, the criminal justice system is grappling with the demands; developing new policies and thresholds to assess and triage within available resources.”

“These are complex issues, yet for our community, there is a growing perception respecting the inability of police, the justice system, or health care system to adequately respond to incidents of crime – especially property crime associated with social issues such as mental health, substance use, and homelessness.”

Click to play video: 'City of Kelowna and RCMP respond to resident’s concerns with property crimes'
City of Kelowna and RCMP respond to resident’s concerns with property crimes

The police went on to concede that the “complexities are breeding decreased confidence and growing frustration and demands on local police and municipalities; neither of which have the scope or mandates to address the underlying issues.”

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“The justice, health, and social and housing systems are under duress and without adequate care or consequences for repeat offenders, public confidence will result in citizen’s frustrations,” RCMP said.

In July 2021, Kelowna was ranked third by Statistics Canada for the national crime severity index for 2020,   up from fourth in 2019.

The only cities ahead of Kelowna were Lethbridge, at No. 1, and Winnipeg, at No. 2.

Read more: Penticton purse snatchers eyeing shopping carts

RCMP said that the City of Kelowna’s Block Connector program is an excellent volunteer opportunity for residents interested in promoting safety in their community.

Annually released, the crime severity index measures the severity of police-reported violations, including traffic offences, with serious crimes given more weight.

It is offered as part of the Strong Neighbourhoods initiative and focuses on building connections between neighbours as a way to promote community safety. Residents can visit http://www.kelowna.ca for more information.

Click to play video: 'Community Safety Plan dives deep to reduce crime in Kelowna'
Community Safety Plan dives deep to reduce crime in Kelowna

 

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