Vigilantism discouraged by Mayor Provenzano, police and experts

A stock photo of handcuffs from

With the propensity for criminals to target both secured and unsecured belongings, the community is frustrated. Some have turned to popular social media sites venting and coming up with plans to exact their own revenge, while others have taken the law into their own hand.

A quick scan of social media will show you altercations between citizens and alleged criminals, sometimes refereed to as vigilantism, happen everywhere and not just here.

Another quick search will find multiple documents on vigilantism, its causes, and legal ramifications. For his part, Mayor Christian Provenzano provided us a statement after our story on vigilante justice earlier this week.

“No one has the right to drive around to seek out people to demean and threaten. People dealing with addiction issues deserve to be treated with respect and dignity,” said Provenzano.  “To seek them out for the purpose of interacting with them in a disturbing and disrespectful manner, only serves to further stigmatization of addiction and mental health issues.”

Vigilante justice has been highlighted recently in the local media. According to a research paper published, The Police Journals, it’s a subject which poses “an unusual problem for law-enforcement agencies.”

“On one hand, police officers can understand what motivates the vigilantes and some may even share some satisfaction in the ad hoc punishment meted out to suspected criminals,” states Andrew Sikes, Author of the paper and lecturer at the University of Leicester. “On the other hand, vigilantes often break the law in their efforts to punish alleged wrongdoers, and sometimes their perception of what constitutes deviant behaviour is not shared by the legal system.”

The Federal department of Justice has a page dedicated to making a citizens arrest in relation to an indictable offence in Canada.

In most cases, you must find a person either in the act of committing a crime, or escaping from and freshly pursued by persons who have lawful authority to arrest that person in order to lawfully make a citizen’s arrest.

In particular, if you are arresting a person for an indictable offence, which is the most serious type of offence and includes violent offences, you can only make the arrest at the time you witness the person committing the offence.

It is against the law to arrest a person after any lapse in time for having committed an indictable offence, unless it is relation to your property.

In special circumstances of any type of criminal offence that is committed on or in relation to your property, you may either:

  • arrest a person you find in the act of committing a crime; or
  • arrest a person within a reasonable period of time after having found that person committing a crime.

To be eligible to make a citizen’s arrest for a crime on or in relation to property, you must be one of the following:

  • the owner of the property;
  • in lawful possession of the property; or
  • have been authorized by the owner or the person in lawful possession of the property.

The law allows you to use as much force as is necessary for the purpose of making a citizen’s arrest, as long as you are acting on reasonable grounds. However, any force you use must be tailored to the circumstances, and you are criminally responsible for any excess force you use. In addition to the potential for a criminal prosecution, you may also face a civil lawsuit in relation to your conduct and any injury you cause.

The law requires that when making a citizen’s arrest, the arrested individual must be delivered to a police officer without delay. If you make a citizen’s arrest and do not call the police as soon as possible, the arrest might be ruled illegal and you could face civil or criminal consequences.

Rick Danyliuk, a practising lawyer in Saskatoon, gave this advise in an article in The Western Producer.

“From a common-sense point of view, a person should be careful in such a situation. Even following someone who is leaving the scene of a crime can be dangerous if he spots you,” said Danyliuk. “Most police officers will tell you to report the incident and observe from a safe distance. They are worried that if you intervene, someone (probably you) will get hurt.”

That advice is parroted by Provenzano.

“If a person believes someone else has committed a crime or is in the processing of committing a crime, they should contact the Sault Ste. Marie Police Service.”

Sault Police Services is also on the record discouraging this type of behaviour.

Stay with SaultOnline/ONNTV as we continue to highlight the crime in our community.


  1. What’s the point in reporting a crime of theft from your property, when, after providing irrefutable video evidence of the crime with clear identity of the thief, to the police, nothing gets done. No follow-up from the police. My garden hose was stolen from my property in broad daylight. Yes I know it’s very miniscule compared to other thefts in the city but regardless I had proof positive and nothing gets done. Then I’ve got the sister of the thief aiding and abetting the thief, and messaging me on social media telling me to get over it. She’s part of the problem, with her coddling of her brother, adding to this never ending criminal activity in this city.

  2. He should be removed from his mayoral position.
    He doesn’t give a shit,, as long as he has his voters behind
    8 million dollar plaza.
    Build a big long term care, and mental hospital.

  3. Illicit drug use and addiction has been linked to many problems and is the root cause of SSM’s continued decay – Provenzano, it SHOULD be stigmatized and not accepted.
    So sick of liberal thinking. Canada is currently in a considerable mess thanks to it.

  4. Well Mr Provenzano how about you and your council and the Police do something concrete instead of an idiotic Plaza. Some junkie/ crackhead/ thief broke into my truck pilfered $1000 of my tools and caused $1000 damage to my new truck. I haven’t seen a police car on my street in months! My moms elderly neighbour had her shed broken into once then burnt to the ground the next time by a thief! Her elderly neighbour across the street had her garage broken into! A guy was shining a flashlight and looking in my moms basement window at 11pm and luckily her neighbour called 911! Mr Provenzano you lead a sheltered life perhaps you should have a look at how the rest of us have to put up with all bullshit from these lowlifes that you and your council are cheerfully ignoring while trumpeting the grandiose scheme of a plaza while the city goes to hell around you!

  5. Yet I’ve never seen anyone NOT hand over the stolen bike when confronted.
    If the bike was not hot, there would be fisticuffs over the bike from an innocent person, in fact if i was confronted over a bike that was actually MINE, I would call cops on the person confronting me!! Only the guilty will drop the bike and walk away.
    Just saying.

  6. It is you Liberals who have created all this chaos in our streets. It is the PM Trudeau who is responsible for these ridiculous catch and release laws.
    The only people who are responsible for all this crime ,drugs and overdoses and deaths of our fellow citizens because of this manufactured chaos is those who voted Liberal or NDP .There is complete chaos in our streets across this city and our country because of the incompetence of Civic Leaders,Provincial Leaders and Our leaders in Ottawa .There is no confidence left because of the breakdown of our Justice system .Too many Liberal appointed Judges .Our country is about to be lost and our freedoms are being removed by tyrannical governments who are using their powers as a state to decide what is reasonable for the people.
    People are desperate and cling to the charter of Rights and Feeedoms .I read it and it states Clearly .The people do not decide what is reasonable. THE STATE decide what is reasonable. Meaning the Federal Government, or Provincial Government decides ,not the People.
    The People deciding that was lost long ago as over the years that was legislated away.

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