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UPDATE: Police respond to anti-crime group in Penticton

RCMP understand growing frustrations of brazen crimes and thefts but can’t condone vigilantism
This picture was taken Monday, July 12, during the middle of the day and posted to the Clean Streets Penticton Facebook page, showing several bicycles and shopping carts with a man working on a bike outside the St. Saviour’s Anglican Church on Orchard Avenue. (Facebook photo)

A new group fed up with what they say is brazen, increased crime in Penticton is planning a protest at city hall before the start of the Tuesday, July 19, council meeting.

Jayson Reynen started the Facebook group Clean Streets Penticton in late June along with some other residents who were frustrated with the number of public crimes, including bike theft, and a lack of action from the city and the judicial system.

“I would like to see 500-plus members on the doorstep of city hall for a peaceful protest at 1 p.m. Remember this is the first of many moves but we need to be heard and it needs to be made a priority as I feel there is a lack of understanding from the city,” posted Reynen to the Clean Streets Facebook page.

Since starting the page three weeks ago, the number of people who have joined the group has grown to nearly 2,000.

“This is a group of people willing to do what they can to help residents and tourists track down stolen goods and report any suspicious activity,” he said.

It isn’t a vigilante group, he stresses in his posts on the site. But they are willing to patrol areas and take back stolen items when it’s safe to do so.

The group administrators say they are pro-police and understand there are limitations to what they can do. Where things have failed is the judicial system and the catch-and-release of prolific offenders.

On Tuesday, Penticton RCMP responded to the group saying they get why so many in the community are feeling unsafe and upset with crime.

“We understand the frustration being voiced by many in our community who are becoming increasingly frustrated by increasing property crime. Every time someone has a piece of their personal property stolen or damaged, it impacts those around them and the wider sense of safety within our community,” said Const. James Grandy.

Police investigations have become extremely complex, and so has the degree of evidence required to be presented to the courts to conduct a fair and just legal process, he added.

“While we understand our community wants faster results, our officers cannot ignore their responsibilities under the law. Each of our officers take their job seriously and want the best outcome for each victim and our community”

“People in our community want to feel safe, and want action. However, the police, nor any citizen can operate outside of our laws in order to persecute those they believe are breaking them.”

While police support the community’s frustration that can’t condone vigilante activities which can end in violence and extended officer resources which Penticton has so little of at the detachment, said Grandy.

READ MORE: Brazen bike thefts leave owners feeling helpless

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Monique Tamminga

About the Author: Monique Tamminga

Monique brings 20 years of award-winning journalism experience to the role of editor at the Penticton Western News. Of those years, 17 were spent working as a senior reporter and acting editor with the Langley Advance Times.
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