Toronto

York Police to young people: please stop climbing cranes

York Regional Police are issuing a warning after a series of crane climbing incidents over the past month, with police worrying its a sign of a dangerous new trend among young thrill seekers.

York Police have responded to four separate crane climbing incidents over the last four weeks

The young climbers have scaled cranes up to 13-storeys high, including this one at a construction site in Richmond Hill. (Makda Ghebreselassie/CBC)

York Regional Police are issuing a warning to would-be crane climbers after a series of incidents around the region.

Since May 22, police have responded to four separate calls of people illegally scaling construction cranes, twice in Richmond Hill and once each in Whitchurch-Stouffville and Newmarket. Police say a total of 16 people have been involved, the majority of them minors.

"There are obvious dangers associated with climbing cranes that are 10, 12, 13 storeys tall," said Const. Andy Pattenden. "Gravity is not going to be your friend if you slip and fall."

Pattenden says the parents of the climbers were called to the scene in two of the cases. In another two instances, York Fire was brought in to devise a potential rescue strategy, however, the climbers were able to descend the cranes on their own both times.

Police have charged the climbers with a series of mischief and trespassing charges.

Crane climbing 'a new trend'

Pattenden says the crane climbing spike is unprecedented.

Over the last six years, he can't recall any other trespassing incidents involving construction cranes in York Region, but he's not yet ready to blame the high-profile rescue of a Toronto woman who scaled a downtown crane in April.

It took firefighters more than 2½ hours to rescue the woman after she became stuck at the end of a cable on the crane.

23-year-old Marisa Lazo was rescued from a Toronto crane in April. She's been charged with six counts of mischief.

"I doubt it's that," Pattenden said, instead pointing to the rise of selfie culture on social media and YouTube, where so-called "rooftoppers" share photos and videos of their often-illegal urban conquests.

Investigators are now looking at those platforms to determine if crane climbing is more widespread around York Region.

"We have been looking around to see connections to social media," Pattenden said. "This is a new trend that we're seeing."

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