Five criminals have escaped from the Whitehorse Correctional Centre in the past four years.
That’s roughly one escape every nine months.
So how are people informed when there’s a potentially dangerous offender in their midst?
“The general public is notified through the media and through Crime Stoppers,” said Sgt. Ross Milward of the Whitehorse RCMP.
But depending on when the breakout happens, it could be hours before the information makes it onto a radio newscast, and days before it makes it into the newspaper.
For example, in the case of David Wiebe, the latest escapee, the Yukon News received a fax from Crime Stoppers at 11:11 a.m. — too late to make Monday’s issue.
He had been jailed for several months while awaiting sentencing after being convicted of aggravated assault.
Police believe he slipped through broken bars in a dormitory window between 2 a.m. and 6 a.m. on Monday, June 19th.
The jail is located beside the softball complex that’s often crammed with children and adults on summer evenings, a soccer pitch and, up the hill, there’s Yukon College’s Ayamdigut campus.
So how do people living, working and playing close to the facility know when to keep their eyes peeled for suspicious individuals?
“We hear, like everybody else, anything that’s in the media,” said Yukon College’s director of administrative services Wayne Coghill.
“I have phoned down a couple times because staff have seen somebody fixing a hole in the (correctional centre’s) fence as they were driving up.
“These days though it’s been people breaking in,” he said with a laugh.
The college also runs a campus inside WCC, which offers high school upgrading and art classes, like carving, depending on what inmates want to learn.
“We get a bit of the inside scoop because we’re in there — maybe they assume that’s enough,” said Coghill.
And sometimes judges impose conditional sentences where a convict is able to stay out of jail if he or she attends college classes.
But the college is always notified when an inmate enrolls, said Coghill.
The jail is also located within shouting distance of Takhini Elementary School.
“(Wiebe) is an escaped prisoner, but he doesn’t pose a threat to the college or Takhini Elementary,” said Milward.
“If there was somebody that was high risk that we thought would be potential danger to the students at Takhini Elementary, we would notify them and we would probably do it personally.
“The people who are in WCC are in there for up to two years; they’re not what you’d call high-risk people. If they were higher risk they get more time and go to a federal penitentiary.”
Both the RCMP and the Yukon’s Justice department decide whom to warn after a breakout.
Notification would be done on a case-by-case basis, said Barb McLeod, a Justice department spokesperson.
“If there is no connection to a school or victim or business then they wouldn’t be notified.”
The Yukon Arts Centre, located right beside the college, doesn’t get alerted either.
“We’ve never received anything, but we’ve never had a problem either,” said Yukon Arts Centre spokesperson Didier Delahayne.
“It seems to me if they break out they’re going to get out of town as fast as they can.”
Wiebe remains at large.
He is a white male with brown eyes, brown hair and a medium complexion. He stands five feet, seven inches, weighs 151 pounds and has a tattoo on his upper right arm that reads: “Fuck the World.”
Wiebe has been sighted in the Whitehorse area in the past couple of days.
Police, leading at least one tracking dog, were recently seen in the Lobird and McLean Lake area. They were knocking on people’s doors asking questions about a unusual man.
As well, a blanket was recently stolen from one resident’s outhouse door.
“I can’t be too specific until we locate him,” said Milward. “He’s around, he’s just been fairly elusive and, of course, he knows we’re after him and anytime there’s (RCMP) around he’s taken off into the bush.
“We’ll get him sooner or later because the dogs will pick up on the track.”
“It’s just a matter of time,” said Milward.
Police advise against approaching Wiebe, but if you see him or have information about this crime contact the Whitehorse RCMP or Crime Stoppers.
The internal investigation into Wiebe’s escape is ongoing, said correctional centre superintendent Phil Perrin Thursday.
This has taken longer than expected because several staff important to the investigation are on vacation.