After being launched in the city just over one month ago, Penticton users of the community crime reporting app Lightcatch have increased significantly.
The free app allows users to report criminal activity in their neighbourhood and track the activity as it unfolds. Founder Darren Boyer said the app has seen a 30 per cent growth with Penticton users since it launched in the community, going from 720 users with home addresses in the city to 1,019.
“Our app has continued to grow significantly in Penticton and across Western Canada as whole. We are adding new members at about one per cent a day,” Boyer said. “In terms of number of reports in Penticton, we see an average of one to two incidents reported per day.”
Boyer said the types of reports the app users in the area have submitted are typical, noting as administrators they’ve seen reports of suspicious individuals, abandoned and possibly stolen items, stolen vehicles and more. He added they’ve received a lot of feedback from Penticton users, saying they claimed they were grateful for this community-based tool.
“We’ve had two definite successes in Penticton through the app. There was a motorized Honda scooter recovered and a stolen bicycle recovered thanks to the community getting involved via Lightcatch. We have a great number of people who have identified suspicious activity,” Boyer said. “And I believe right now, we’re just at the stage where people are starting to realize that they can track suspicious activity through their neighbourhood. So being able to see and track things in real time.”
He noted an example was a post about a seemingly-abandoned wagon on a sidewalk that a user suspected may have been stolen. The post garnered more visibility thanks to commenters, which led to an update from a witness who saw a truck park near the wagon and multiple people exit the nearby bushes to load its box up with “suitcases, items, garbage bags and then it drove off in about five minutes.”
“It was very alarming that we (the app users) didn’t even know people were in the bushes (where the wagon was reported) from that first post. Then to watch all of those goods being loaded by several people in a matter of seconds, if we would have had the community take the next step and track where that vehicle went, it might have been very helpful for law enforcement,” Boyer said.
He added that the app is still not a replacement for alerting police or other emergency services to report a crime, and that there are prompts in its software that reminds users to do this. For tips and tricks when it comes to increasing your chance of successfully resolving a situation in the app, Boyer said their statistics show success increases if you post both photos and videos about the event. And taking the time to add the address of the incident in your post description is another recommended step, to ensure accuracy about where it is taking place.
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