IM this article to a friend!

January 27, 2003

Back to scene of the crime

From: Calgary Sun, Canada - 27 Jan 2003

By MIKE D'AMOUR, Calgary Sun

Just call it reality TV that really makes a difference for Calgary crime-busters.

Since 2001, Shaw TV (cable Ch. 10 for those looking on the dial) has been producing and airing Crime Stoppers television re-enactments.

"They are done in order to elicit information from people who might otherwise not be willing to come forward," said Calgary Police Service Const. Rob Van Gastel.

"Sometimes, people aren't even aware they've witnessed a crime until they see the re-enactment and it's happened where people have seen the reenactments and have called in with valuable information police can use."

Gone are the days when Crime Stoppers would use local actors to play the parts -- now you're more likely than not to see the actual victims of crimes and investigating police officers play themselves.

"We always interview the victim or someone with the victim and the investigators always on camera to provide that connection between the crime and the investigations," Van Gastel said.

Most of the crimes on the re-enactments have already had heavy media coverage, and the television spots supply police with a last-ditch attempt to get information to help them solve the crime.

One such case is this week's re-enactment (which airs Wednesday and on the weekend) about a family that has been terrorized for months in their own home.

A Glamorgan couple, along with their 10-year-old daughter, have been the victims of cowards who have sent intimidating letters and committed several acts of vandalism.

They have egged their home, poured oil on the front steps and lit fires.

The reason why this particular family is being targeted is a mystery to the victims and the police.

The 39-year-old resident and his wife, who are both deaf and mute, cannot understand why they are the target of these cowardly acts.

"The Crime Stoppers reenactments -- done for free by Shaw out of the goodness of their hearts -- are tools used by police to help conclude an investigation," Van Gastel said.

"So far the investigation into this couple's plight has gone nowhere and we're looking for help."

If you know anything about the person or people terrorizing the family, call Dist. 2 Const. Ray Wong at 249-7701.

Or give Crime Stoppers a call at 1-800-222-8477.