Kelowna RCMP has concerns about the ‘Take Back Kelowna’ Facebook group.
Created in mid-July, the group’s ‘About’ page describes itself as “concerned citizens working with other local groups getting stolen items back as well as reporting areas of concern.”
“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,” said Const. Mike Della-Paolera, media relations officer. “It is easy to find yourself in a dangerous situation, or in legal hot water.“
Della-Paolera pointed out that crimes are never victimless and need to be reported to the police no matter how insignificant they appear to some.
“The RCMP acknowledges the frustration being voiced by many in our community who are concerned about property crime in Kelowna,” he added.
The ‘About’ section of the Facebook group does add that Kelowna RCMP “have their hands tied”.
Della-Paolera noted great work is being done by officers but added prolific property crime is on the rise, stemming from complex social issues and coupled with individuals who perpetually re-offend because of a set approach in the justice system.
Kelowna RCMP recently arrested a pair of re-offenders who combined for a total of 68 recommended charges over two months. Police also recovered $80,000 in stolen property.
Both offenders are still in custody. Della-Paolera said although the community wants quick results, officers will not act outside of lawful authorities.
“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.”
He also noted decreased confidence, and growing frustration and demand on local police and municipalities, which do not have the scope or mandate to address the underlying issues.
“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,” added Della-Paolera.
He urged residents to get involved in other ways.
“Please consider volunteering for organizations in your community,” he added. “From Crime Stoppers to coaching youth sport to assisting those with addictions, you can make a real difference in someone’s life.”
Ways to get involved with community safety:
- Join the City of Kelowna Block Connector Program;
- Follow the ‘9p.m. routine’ to ensure your property is safe and secure each night.
- Record the serial numbers on your valuables and register your bike through 529 Garage. This way they can be effectively identified if stolen and recovered by police.
- Say hello to people in your neighborhood you might be suspicious of. It shows them they’re seen. Observe, record, and report criminal activity.
- Call 9-1-1 if a crime is underway, use the RCMP’s online reporting tool to report crimes that have occurred or call 250-762-3300 to report suspicious or illegal activity.
- Contact Kelowna bylaw services at 250-469-8686.
Capital News has spoken with representatives from the Facebook group, and will have more on the story early next week.