It was supposed to be one of your typical auto theft cases. A car in Cornwall had been stolen, only to be spotted later with the alleged thief still behind the wheel.
But this case had a bit of a twist. The difference this time was that the stolen car was spotted by members of the Cornwall Community Police Service's Mobile Community Watch. The car and its driver were reported to police and the individual was arrested.
Blake Paquin, the police service's public affairs representative, considers it one of the many "success stories" the program has written since it was created in 2006.
"Our members are really (enthusiastic) about this program," he said.
Barb Marchand became a member of the patrol when the program was introduced six years ago.
She said patrolling city streets is her way of returning the favour.
"I was a single mom," she said, suggesting social programs and other community-based services helped her while raising a family on her own. "I wanted to be able to give back."
Patrick Daigneault dreams of a career as a police officer and figured taking turns as a member of the patrol would be a good way to get his foot in the door.
"This is a great way to help the police," he said.
Mobile community watch is driven, pardon the pun, by the volunteers who donate their time to patrol the city in their own vehicle and report any suspicious or criminal activity they might observe.
Police say the program allows the community members and stakeholders to take an active role and ownership of creating a safer city.
Members of community watch are asked to donate five hours a month to patrol the city, in their own vehicles which are clearly marked with bilingual magnetic signage. Members carry cell phones to communicate with dispatchers and a police radio to monitor which calls police are responding to.
"Our members have no issue reaching five hours a month," said Paquin, adding community patrol members are eyes and ears only - they are asked to avoid making direct contact with suspicious individuals or those commiting criminal offences.
Since the program was created in 2006 nearly 540 community patrol sorties have been completed, with members logging 1,789 hours behind the wheel and have travelled more than 24,000 km.
In addition to spying that stolen vehicle, the community patrol has spotted vandals at work, called in a multitude of disturbances, noted traffic offences/accidents and helped locate persons of interest.
For more information on joining the patrol, and for a complete breakdown on the requirements to be accepted, contact Paquin at 613-933-5000 ext. 2415, or e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
More information can be found on the police website, www.cornwallpolice.com.