Campbell River RCMP are discouraging locals from taking the law into their own hands.
After a video of a 73-year-old woman thwarting a robbery at Walmart went viral last week, police want to make sure the next such incident doesn’t result in unnecessary injury.
“The civic minded individual should be commended for their bravery and initiative, and it definitely shows the level of frustration that people in the community have in relation to property crime,’ said Const. Maury Tyre. “However, we as the police, cannot in good conscience recommend that people take matters into their own hands in events such as these, because of the inherent risks associated with physically stopping someone. As well as the obvious physical risks, there could be civil or criminal risks if the person who takes action is wrong.”
Police are recommending witnesses call them as their first resort in these instances. That can be followed up by alerting store management so that video evidence of the alleged crime can be accessed.
“Regarding shoplifting, there are various components of a case that typically have to be met before action can be taken against an individual and the average citizen may not be entirely aware what those conditions are,” Tyre said.
“Many of the pieces of evidence would actually have to be provided by the store/victim themselves and if they can’t be produced, legal action against the person may not be possible.”
He also had advice for store owners and staff.
Recovered items are to be set aside, and not restocked as they are evidence; multiple people should be trained and have access to surveillance systems to allow for quick identification of suspects; and a close eye needs to be kept on who comes into stores, with “no backpack” rules being recommended.
The unmasking of the suspect at Walmart in Campbell River on Jan 29 is currently under investigation by the RCMP. Police are asking witnesses who have yet to contact them to do so at 250-286-6221.