'RCMP does not condone this activity,' say police to creep catchers
Inspector Tyler Svendson says no successful charge has ever come from vigilante groups' efforts
Surrey RCMP are describing efforts by citizen-led groups to 'out' online child sexual predators as getting in the way of legitimate police work.
"The RCMP does not condone this activity, nor do we recommend the activity. We believe it only increases the risk to the public," said Insp. Tyler Svendson to CBC News, adding that he does not believe any successful charge has come due to efforts from groups like Creep Catcher.
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Creep Catcher's members pose as underage girls online with the aim of trapping men who are trying to hook-up with the girls for sex. After sharing some messages, they arrange to meet, often in public locations like parking lots.
Video recordings of the ensuing confrontations, along with the prior text messages, are then posted online in order to shame the men.
"They're not professionals, they don't understand the case law and often it's very hard to obtain the evidence," said Svendson. "With the RCMP we have a very high success rate in all of our investigations because we have highly trained online covert investigators."
'You know he's a creep'
Still despite several warnings from police, Ryan Laforge, who is the president of Creep Catcher's Surrey chapter, said nothing police say will deter the group.
"Never," he said. "We're not trying necessarily have everyone arrested. It would be great, but I would rather have their faces out there for good.
"So everyone knows when they see them in the Walmart, when they see them at the bus, when they see them at the swimming pool, wherever you are with your kids at the park, you see that face, you know he's a creep."
Laforge said his group has had overwhelming support online.
Insp. Svendson said often the group just ends up duplicating work police are already doing, which can slow down RCMP investigations.