A police scene in Whitehorse’s Riverdale neighbourhood last week was prompted by an ongoing investigation involving victims targeted from online dating profiles and marketplaces, according to RCMP.
Police previously advised that Whitehorse RCMP’s General Investigation Section and Yukon RCMP’s Critical Incident Program conducted a search warrant on a home in the area on Jan. 20 in response to a “serious, ongoing investigation” but did not elaborate.
In the initial advisory, RCMP advised of increased police presence as officers were attending a residence related to an “ongoing incident” in the neigbourhood. Police asked the public to stay away from police activity and not to share details and locations on social media.
In a Jan. 23 release, RCMP provided additional information about the situation in the 100 block of Lewes Boulevard.
In the latest release, RCMP said the police operation started at 10 a.m. and “safely” ended at 11:30 a.m. No one was injured, according to the release. Police stuck around to search the residence for most of the day.
Police said the search warrant execution was linked to a previous RCMP release about online meeting safety.
“This is a continuing Criminal Code investigation and there is a need to preserve the integrity of that investigation,” reads the release.
The release indicates there was no risk to the public or schools in the area. Schools and daycares in the area were notified of the planned police activity, according to the release. St. Francis of Assisi Catholic Secondary School initiated a “hold and secure” — which means no one enters or exits the building as classroom instruction goes on — in response to the police activity down the street from the school.
On Jan. 11, police put out a release indicating Whitehorse RCMP is looking into multiple files involving victims being targeted from online dating profiles such as Tinder or similar online platforms like Instagram and Facebook.
Allegations of theft, threats against the victims and their families and the use of violence occurring after victims met in person with people they connected with through dating apps or online marketplaces, are current files under investigation, according to the release.
In the release, investigators are hopeful that other victims may come forward as investigators believe there may be more victims in Whitehorse who fear reporting similar incidents.
In the release, anyone who has been similarly targeted or has information about these types of occurrences are being encouraged to contact Whitehorse RCMP at 867-667-5551 and to remain anonymous by calling Crime Stoppers at 867-667-6715 or visiting online at www.crimestoppersyukon.ca.
Police are advising people who are planning on meeting in person after making initial contact on the internet to take precautions.
Those precautions include meeting and staying in a public place; doing a reverse image Google search for photos from dating profiles and items for sale to see if the photo has been copied from the internet; making a safety plan that includes the name of the person being met and the website or app they were met on, meeting locations and the time expected to be home to share with a trusted person, as well as planning to check in with that person after the meeting; allowing friends and family to track your phone and going “with your gut” if it’s saying to leave or end the date or conversation.
“For dates in particular, stay sober when you meet someone for the first time and don’t leave your drink unattended,” reads the release.
Contact Dana Hatherly at firstname.lastname@example.org