Shuswap home at centre of escalating vigilantism torn down - InfoNews

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Shuswap home at centre of escalating vigilantism torn down

September 13, 2019 - 4:00 PM

SCOTCH CREEK - Residents fed up with crime that appears to be escalating across some communities in the Shuswap are demanding action.

While communities throughout the Kamloops and Okanagan regions have been grappling with crime, followed by public calls for vigilantism, it appears to have gone long past that in tiny Scotch Creek, near Chase. In apparent retaliation to crime in the neighbourhood, a derelict home was set on fire and a gun has been fired in separate incidents.  

Today that house was torn down. Columbia-Shuswap Regional Director Jay Simpson says the owner was unaware the house was being used by squatters. A small group of community members from the area will be holding a private community forum to address the crime in the area.

Simpson says he will be attending to hear from residents that are being affected.

“It’s going to be an interesting meeting,” he says. “It’s being put on by some of the people who have had (items) stolen from them.”

Simpson says the meeting wasn’t meant to be a large community gathering but has gathered the attention of lots of people.

“My concern is the welfare of the residents…I can’t condone the vigilantism that people are talking about and some may be partaking in,” he says.

Police issued a statement earlier this week about vigilantism after officers responded to a call at the problem home. Police responded to the residence and noticed the house had been intentionally set on fire. Nobody was found at the scene. The previous weekend, police attended the same residence after a report of a shotgun blast. Officers determined a group of individuals had walked up to the residence in an effort to retrieve stolen property.

Chase RCMP issued a statement to the public saying they were worried about residents taking matters into their own hands.

Simpson says residents are frustrated and feel they are not be looked after by the local RCMP detachment. In his conversations with the Chase RCMP, Simpson says he was told there aren’t enough officers to address the number of calls they receive.

“They have got a very small detachment and a fairly large territory so they can’t be everywhere,” he says, adding it’s a common occurrence for people to wait lengthy amounts of time before police arrive.

“It’s frustrating for the people that are getting things stolen. They know who it is, where it is and they would like something done but the cops need proof and that’s hard to come by sometimes,” Simpson says. “It’s a roundhouse of frustration.”

Simpson says they have noticed an increase in thefts this past spring and summer compared to the last couple of years.

“We recognize the signs that things are getting to the point that something needs to be done,” he says.

Thefts, organized crime and drugs are some of the top concerns from residents.

Back in July, Chase RCMP seized more than $300,000 worth of stolen property during a raid at a rural property near Scotch Creek. Officers found several firearms on the property as well.

Four people were detained and later released without charges.

“The things we like about community being rural: large lots, well treed, a driveway here and and a driveway there — it’s perfect for people who want to stash stuff because it’s tough to get eyes on and it’s easy to get away if somebody is looking for you,” Simpson says. “It’s a great place for them just like it’s a great place for us, but we just don’t like them.”

—With files from The Canadian Press


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