Coquitlam RCMP reassure women weekend abduction attempts aren't linked | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Coquitlam RCMP reassure women weekend abduction attempts aren't linked

February 08, 2021 - 5:26 PM

Heightened concern around the safety of young women and calls for the public to arm themselves are continuing to spread quickly across various social media platforms, despite the RCMP's earlier attempt to quell worries.

In fact, the response may have just fuelled the fire.

Over the weekend rumours about a white van, or another suspicious vehicle, following a woman in Coquitlam went viral. The conclusion reached by people online was that the driver was trying to abduct the woman and that case was tied to a variety of other missing person's reports and other episodes where women were put in a vulnerable position.

In response to the growing online commentary, Coquitlam RCMP issued a statement basically saying there was no cause for concern.

“Coquitlam RCMP has received one official report and seen several other online posts. We have an open mind, but so far there is no evidence to support that any abduction attempt has actually happened. If we see any real risk we will let the public know. In the meantime, we are asking you to stop spreading unproven rumours. Those rumours are scaring people,” Cpl. Michael McLaughlin with Coquitlam RCMP said on the weekend through a press release.

“We’ve seen people drawing connections between situations and investigations that are completely unrelated and encouraging each other to carry weapons as a result. Please don’t carry weapons, and don’t try to draw conclusions about crimes based on very basic information."

It’s been a day since that response came out and the RCMP are coming back with a softer tone after getting an earful.

In a press release issued today, Feb. 8, the RCMP said they have heard from members of the public, elected officials and some of their stakeholders who have expressed deep concern about the language used by RCMP.

“We regret that this has caused anger and has upset people. In no way, was it meant to be disrespectful or dismissive of the public’s concern,” the statement reads. “We attempted to address this issue in order to get the most accurate and timely information out to the public. We are fully aware that we used language that upset some of the people we serve.”

The BC RCMP statement went on to say it wants to reassure the public that there is nothing to indicate that people are being abducted or there is an increase in reported cases. There is also nothing to indicate any
links in recent missing person cases identified in Port Moody, Chilliwack or other areas of the province. The circumstances in each investigation are different. 

“Additionally, the Real Time Intelligence Centre British Columbia (RTIC-BC) has a mandate to review and identify links and trends in criminal activity throughout the province,” according to the statement.

“This is just one of the ways police departments in BC share information and coordinate investigative efforts. RTIC-BC (Real Time Intelligence Centre-BC) reports that in three recent files, persons were followed by a white van. There was no other interaction. A fourth file, confirms one male being forced into a white panelled van. It is still under investigation.”

Of note, RCMP said, four of the files which reported a white van in their neighbourhoods, reported it after seeing similar posts on social media. No links, trends or increases in missing persons was identified.

Police receive daily reports of missing persons and said in the majority of cases news alerts are issued and nearly all are located safe.

"Every report of a missing person is taken seriously and actively investigated in accordance with BC Policing Standards for missing persons. We receive over 20,000 missing person reports every year. About 1% of people
remain missing at the end of the year, and most are located within seven days," according to the statement. "Additionally, each case is subject to investigative reviews and assessed against other cases for similarities or connections."

Of note, however, the RCMP said the misinformation on social media is of concern with hundreds, even thousands of posts that warned the public of a series of abductions, possibly involving a suspicious white van that had not been substantiated.

“Very concerning were the calls for people to start arming themselves,” RCMP said. The posts also speculated that some recent missing person files were linked. This was not true and inconsistent with the evidence gathered. We understand that many posters likely shared the information with good intentions.”

The BC RCMP said it was, “pleading with the public to reach out to the police in your jurisdiction for the most accurate information and to report any suspicious incidents to your local police for investigative follow up.”

To contact a reporter for this story, email Kathy Michaels or call 250-718-0428 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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