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Kelowna  

Crime car now a police tool

Thanks to the activity of criminals and gangs The RCMP's Southeast District has a new crime fighting tool.

Acting district Supt. Tim Head and BC's Attorney General, Suzanne Anton unveiled the tool, a 2004 Nissan 350Z at a news conference in Kelowna Thursday morning.

The vehicle, previously involved in criminal activity, has been wrapped with messaging and graphics that highlight the dangers of gang life, organized crime and the drug trade.

The trunk and hood also feature interlocking chalk outlines symbolizing the lives needlessly lost due to gang violence.

"This car brings a strong message to those who think the gang lifestyle is glamorous. If you are involved in criminal activity your toys can be seized as proceeds of crime," says Head.

"We have an opportunity to reach out to youth with a powerful message delivered in a very unique way."

Anton says she wants youth and families to get the message that a life of crime can be a dead end.

"We want youth, we want their families, we want their loved ones to understand that being in a gang may look enticing, may seem enticing, but it is a very poor life choice and it usually ends badly," says Anton.

While the message is chilling, it is, after all, just a car.

"There are many kinds of responses to gangs - there's a criminal justice response, there's a police response. This is an educational response," says Anton.

"This is to educate youth and it's also to educate families to know that there are resources for families. If they want their loved ones to get out of a gang life there are ways they can get help."

Head says the vehicle is a tool for engagement, a conversation starter.

"It's an attention getter. It's a flashy vehicle....people stop and look at the vehicle. We will encourage our members to engage in conversation with these young people," says Head.

"The RCMP members will talk to them about the vehicle, how we came about getting the vehicle...and use that as a medium to talk about gang issues and gang life and some of the pressures these people are facing."

Head says that, while it looks glamorous and you can acquire all these great looking toys, 'in a flash police can take it away and you'll also face criminal prosecution.'

The vehicle will be travelling to beaches and events around the Okanagan and the Southeast District for the next two years including the upcoming Keloha and Center of Gravity festivals in Kelowna.

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