In an unexpected twist to Montreal West’s ongoing porch piracy saga, local police have warned against posting videos of thieves online, citing defamation concerns. 

This advisory, coming from Quebec’s provincial police force, The Sûreté du Québec (SQ),  focused on protecting the alleged perpetrator’s privacy, igniting a wave of disbelief and ridicule among residents and online commentators.

“You cannot post the images yourself because you have to remember, in Canada, we have a presumption of innocence and posting that picture could be a violation of private life,” said SQ communications officer Lt. Benoit Richard, according to CTV News Montreal.

Defamation, by legal definition, involves damaging someone’s good reputation through slander or libel. 

This police caution struck many as absurd, as it seemingly protects the privacy of criminals over the rights of victims. The statement has led to a flurry of reactions online, with one user on X sarcastically saying, “You ALL know every court in Canada would LOVE to rule that thieves have a reasonable right to privacy while stealing.” 

Montreal West councillor Lauren Small-Pennefather acknowledged the daily struggle residents faced with porch pirates. 

“It’s something we deal with on a daily basis,” she said.

The irony of the situation is not lost on residents, as the very tools (security cameras) intended to deter thieves are now the subject of controversy due to potential legal repercussions.

Expressing dismay at the current state of affairs, one X user referenced not only the recent police quote but also the B.C. Supreme Court ruling that drug use in playgrounds was protected under the constitution.

“Congratulations LiberalNDP, we have reached that point where criminals have more rights than law-abiding citizens,” said the user.

Another user posted a similar sentiment.

“Insanity in Canada where criminals’ rights matter more than innocent victims. Definitively dystopian/dysfunctional/disgraceful,” said the person on X.

This sentiment echoes the frustration felt by many who see the police’s warning as a step backwards in effectively tackling crime. 

Many users posted similar comments, with over 700 replies to Canada Proud’s post about the story on X. 

Addressing the defamation concern, “Defamation involves making false statements that harms someone’s reputation. Posting a video of someone stealing a package is not defamation (laughing emoji),” said one user on X.

In a time where porch thefts are on the rise, as a FedEx survey indicates that 28% of Canadians have had a package stolen, the advice to refrain from posting evidence online seems to undermine community efforts to deter and identify criminals. Overall, 70% of online shoppers are at least somewhat worried about package theft.

FedEx claimed that tracking shipments and checking delivery notifications are the most common ways to protect from package theft, with 61% of shoppers saying that they do this.

Despite this, Small-Pennefather said that porch pirates are getting smarter.

“You have people that are following the vehicles, and when they see a parcel that’s dropped off, they then go and take the parcel if nobody comes to the door to retrieve the parcel,” she said.

She added that requiring a signature on the parcel for pick up, meaning the package cannot be dropped at your door unattended, or arranging to pick packages up from the carrier at the depot are good precautions to take. 

Lt. Benoit Richard recommends that citizens call 911 if anything is stolen from them.

“If you get some proof that somebody might have stolen something, call the police, give that proof to the police. We’ll do the investigation, bring that person to justice and file some charges,” he said.