Community Alert subscribers help cops catch perp

Quick action on the part of a concerned citizen may have saved the citizens of 43 Division from a predator. Less than two hours after police sent an alert on Oct. 14, a concerned citizen tipped the police off and the man was caught.

According to crime prevention officer Bill Campbell, a day or so prior to the alert, a girl in the division’s area had been followed by a man in a beat up vehicle and was trying to get her into the car.

She walked off and started to use a cell phone and the suspect fled the scene.

Campbell put an alert out, and out of the 1,800 subscribers to the e-mail-based service, one almost immediately got back to him.

“I can’t tell you who it was, even if I knew,” Campbell admits. “But someone heard us.”

They had spotted the vehicle, which according to Campbell, stood out because there was duct tape on the fenders, and the suspect was subsequently identified and investigated.

The following press release called it “another prime example of the police and residents working together in South East Scarborough to promote a better and safer community.”

According to Campbell though, such a quick response is “rather unusual, because it goes out by computer. I do get a number of tips back, people do respond all the time.”

Introduction of a new, more direct alert system is planned by Nov. 9. Campbell describes it as “a whole new version of the old dial-up system” that will use phone calls, email, and text messaging. It’s called TPS Links and it’ll be citywide. However, Campbell plans to keep the current e-mail system in place, as it has a dedicated user base and “there’s no use getting rid of it.”

As the events of Oct. 14 show, it’s still useful for keeping the community safe.