Another 'Creep Catchers' video prompts RCMP warning to vigilantes
Kent Molgat and Kendra Mangione, CTV Vancouver
Published Wednesday, June 1, 2016 5:57PM PDT
Civilians trying to lure alleged pedophiles are putting themselves in danger and interfering with investigations, local police say.
Predator-baiting schemes have become popular in some North American communities, with vigilantes drawing inspiration from the reality show "To Catch a Predator."
Groups have sprung up online and through social media, with members describing themselves as "experts" who investigate unseemly individuals.
One of the "Creep Catchers" chapters has just been set up in Penticton by a duo aiming to catch and shame men taking advantage of underage girls.
Mitch Shelswell and Tyler Fritsen set up fake profiles, pretending to be underage.
"What we've got to do is get consent from somebody to use their photos, somebody that looks young," Shelswell explained to CTV News.
The men chat with alleged sexual predators online, then set up a meeting where the men are confronted on video.
One video posted online by the pair shows Fritsen questioning a man who they say met up with them, thinking a teenage girl would be there.
"This picture right here isn't you, man?" Fritsen is heard asking.
"Explain yourself, man. Why did you come here to meet a 14-year-old girl?"
The Penticton chapter of "Creep Catcher" is new, but police in other jurisdictions have issued warnings to the group to stay within the law.
Police say that the groups may be interfering with police investigations, and are putting themselves at risk.
"When we have persons that are taking the law into their own hands such as they've done here, confronting a person in a public place like this, you never know what could occur," Southeast District RCMP Sgt. Dan Moskaluk said.
But Fritsen and Shelswell say they have no plans to stop their operation.
"As long as we follow the rules given to us by Creep Catchers originally, we're doing everything legally," Shelswell said.
The RCMP said catchers may be exposing themselves to legal problems down the road, but Fritsen said they just have to remember to stay cool.
"Creep Catcher does not promote violence. We're just here to expose the creeps."
With a report from CTV Vancouver's Kent Molgat