SURREY — Surrey Creep Catchers president Ryan LaForge says yet another high-profile “sting” leading to a child luring charge shows his organization is on the “right track.”
“We have been on the right track since our first video,” LaForge told the Now-Leader. “We never needed charges to know we were doing what’s right. We took a fight to an epidemic ignored by our government.”
Burnaby resident Kuljinder Singh Bhatti, 35, is expected to appear in Surrey provincial court on May 4 after being charged last week in connection with a sting done by Creep Catchers in Whalley on April 3.
Bhatti is accused of trying to lure a minor for a sexual purpose and making an arrangement with a person for a sexual offence involving a person under age 18.
Creep Catchers representatives pose as children online, arrange to meet adults who think they’ve been communicating with a child, confront them, film them and then post the videos on Facebook. The group set up in Surrey last summer.
LaForge said he performed a citizens arrest on April 3 during a “sting” on a man he alleged came to pay for sex with a six-year-old outside the Tim Horton’s at Central City Shopping Centre.
Police arrested LaForge for assault related to the citizens arrest and released him with a promise to appear in court on June 7.
Surrey RCMP Corporal Scotty Schumann said “the allegations of assault involving this accused by a civilian during the incident are still under investigation.”
Surrey RCMP Sergeant Alanna Dunlop confirmed police and Creep Catchers were in contact prior to to the April 3 incident but declined to discuss what was said, and by whom, except to say that “any confrontation was discouraged by Surrey RCMP.”
For his part, LaForge told the Now-Leader that “as for the police contact I’d like to keep in their good books for now so I won’t touch on the contact if they have not.”
Those “good books” might be wishful thinking on his part.
Last week, after LaForge’s latest sting, Schumann put to the following statement: “As we have said previously, RCMP does not support, condone, or recommend vigilantism. Vigilantism, no matter how well meaning, does not involve police, and therefore is void of ongoing safety considerations. Vigilantism is a risk to the safety of all those involved including victims, or potential victims, the alleged suspects, and/or the safety of those persons intent on broadcasting the suspected crime.”
Last year, Surrey RCMP Corporal Dario Devic was arrested on Sept. 9 after a woman working with Surrey Creep Catchers posed as a 15-year-old girl and allegedly communicated with the officer online after posting an ad on Craigslist. A meeting was set up outside the Boston Pizza at Surrey Central Shopping Mall in Whalley and LaForge and his crew live-streamed the sting on the Internet.
Devic has been suspended from duty. He was originally charged with luring a child and breach of trust by a public officer but the Criminal Justice Branch stayed the latter, concluding it did not meet the branch’s charge assessment standard. His next appearance in Surrey provincial court is set for Aug. 3, 2017.