A Kamloops councillor is concerned about property crime in the city.
Coun. Bill Sarai said the issue has nearly reached a boiling point.
Police reported 60 thefts from motor vehicles last week and Sarai believes it is only a matter of time until victims take matters into their own hands.
“My biggest fear, someone’s going to get caught rummaging through a car or in a backyard and it’s going to be someone who has already got something stolen,” Sarai said. “They’re going to take the law into their own hands.”
Sarai posted concerns online, eliciting responses that seemed to echo his sentiment. Comments ranged from “people are fed up” to threats of bats and beatings that ring eerily familiar to a vigilante incident in Kamloops that resulted in catastrophic consequences.
Kamloops man Kristopher Teichrieb is serving time in prison after pleading guilty last fall to aggravated assault for beating 18-year-old Jessie Simpson with a baseball bat in 2016.
Teichrieb found the teen in his yard one night following a string of unrelated property crime incidents and took matters into his own hands. Teichrieb was sentenced to seven years in prison as a result and expressed remorse for his actions in court. Simpson, meanwhile, will require support for the rest of his life.
In addition to that one high-profile incident, neighbourhood watch groups are at an all-time high online, with the internet providing the means to enable a surveillance society. Photos of alleged criminals can be passed around the internet with a mere click of a button and tensions can soar, with frustrations over stolen property and the means to name those believed to be responsible to a mass audience. The opportunity for vigilantism has perhaps never been greater.
Kamloops Cpl. Jodi Shelkie, however, said vigilantism is against the law.
While police are trained to respond to criminal activity, the average person is not, posing safety issues to all involved.
“Nobody should attempt to take the law into their own hands because it can be very dangerous,” Shelkie said. In addition to safety concerns, Shelkie said individuals open themselves up to being sued by whoever they are taking action against. Kamloops RCMP recently began releasing crime maps in order to let residents know which areas are being hit the hardest.