Creep Catchers Take Brash Approach to Protect Children

Creep Catchers have arrived in Thunder Bay
Creep Catchers have arrived in Thunder Bay

Creep Catchers have arrived in Thunder Bay
Creep Catchers have arrived in Thunder Bay

THUNDER BAY – Creep Catchers have arrived in Thunder Bay. The group with chapters across Canada go online, pretending to be young people. Creep Catchers take on alleged “Creeps” posing as young girls, and boys on social media chat forums and set up meetings with the alleged “Creeps” and video the encounter.

The video is then posted to Youtube, and the Creep Catchers Website.

Creep Catchers Thunder Bay

There are 15 Creep Catcher chapters across Canada. So far the only Ontario Chapter is here in Thunder Bay. The group claims that they have captured, on video, six individuals and their videos are posted on their website.

The effort is new in Canada, and appears to be based on the American television show that takes a similar approach to catching alleged child abusers. One of the differences from the television show is that while the American show has law enforcement officers involved, Creep Catchers does not.

The process is creating controversy. Creep Catchers started in Calgary. There are chapters across the province. Medicine Hat Police recently took two of the members in for questioning.

No charges were laid, but Medicine Hat Police issued a statement following that encounter:

“ ‘Creep Catchers’ is an unsanctioned, loosely organized, initiative aimed at luring and confronting online predators through various social media platforms using fictitious or covert accounts. The aim of the group is to identify and publicly shame online predators by video recording the confrontations and posting it online afterwards. The ‘Creep Catchers; initiative is a growing concern throughout Canada and the United States, and although there was a similar incident recently reported to police, this is the first time ‘Creep Catchers’ has been involved in Medicine Hat. Police are actively investigating both reported incidents.
“Individuals who engage in vigilante activity are putting themselves at considerable risk of defensive or retaliatory harm from the people they are confronting. In addition, making public allegations without clear evidence, could potentially result in the accusation of an innocent person, and the individual may then face a civil lawsuits for slander, libel or defamation of character, which could potentially result in personal liabilities in the hundreds of thousands of dollars.
“Although most ‘Creep Catchers’ activity remain within legal boundaries, many of the incidents come precariously close to the threshold of several criminal offences. Creating fictional online profiles using stock photos or pilfered images from another person’s social media accounts could create grounds for an identity theft or identity fraud complaints and/or arrest. Individuals acting on their own may also create a criminal harassment, public mischief or obstruction offence, if they are overly zealous in their efforts.”
The practice of publicly shaming the people can have consequences, the president of the chapter in Lethbridge is facing charges following an encounter that was filmed. Police charged the president with causing a disturbance, this following an incident where the alleged “creep” assaulted the man during the encounter.

In Lethbridge Alberta, Police issued a media statement on the efforts of the group. “Vigilante justice undermines the investigative process and could interfere with and derail police investigations.  The types of so-called undercover operations attempted by untrained members of public are reckless, dangerous and put both parties in a position of significant risk and harm. They also create complications for the courts and ultimately subvert true justice.

“LPS does not work in connection with any online vigilante groups and strongly condemns their actions. Members of the public who truly want to help combat child luring and exploitation and see offenders held to account, are encouraged to report tips and information to police or cybertip.ca.”

Thunder Bay Police are aware of the local chapter of creep catchers, but have not made public comment.