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Creep Catchers is a growing group whose goal is to identify and publicly shame men looking for sex with underage girls. Here in British Columbia it’s the Surrey chapter currently making headlines.
Their video, live-streamed as it happened on September 7th, resulted in Constable Dario Devic’s arrest the following day. Devic is currently suspended from active duty and faces charges of communicating with a person under the age of 16 for the purpose of sexual interference or sexual touching and breach of trust by a public officer.
It is unclear whether Devic’s suspension is with or without pay.
As well, two 14-year-old girls who lived at Devic’s home, identified in news reports as “home-stay students”, have been removed from that home.
"If these allegations are substantiated, we will be taking immediate steps to separate ourselves from this individual," acting RCMP commanding officer Brenda Butterworth-Carr said. "These allegations are egregious and not in keeping with what we expect from our employees."
Constable Devic was released from RCMP custody with a number of conditions. He is prohibited from using the Internet, from contacting children under the age of 16 and from attending facilities where anyone under that age may gather.
For their part the RCMP is unhappy with Creep Catchers, saying the group puts active investigations at risk and makes the job of catching online sexual predators more difficult.
"The RCMP does not condone this activity, nor do we recommend the activity. We believe it only increases the risk to the public," said RCMP Inspector Tyler Svendson. "They're not professionals, they don't understand the case law and often it's very hard to obtain the evidence. With the RCMP we have a very high success rate in all of our investigations because we have highly trained online covert investigators."
B.C. Public Safety Minister Mike Morris weighed in as well, calling Creep Catchers “vigilantes”.
"I know the RCMP are diligently investigating all leads on that particular one, and I'm just going to let them deal with the media on that particular issue but what I will say about Creep Catchers and all those types of activities ... They are treading in some pretty dangerous territory. I see it as a form of vigilantism, and I think that's best left to the police."
Now, I don’t think Minister Morris meant to imply that vigilantism was best left to the RCMP, but it does raise an interesting question, doesn’t it?