Citizen’s arrest a right, liability a consequence, police say after Dartmouth man stops car thieves

Metro Halifax
Published on May 28, 2014
Halifax Regional Police
Jeff Harper - Metro Halifax

By Desiree Finhert


While every Canadian citizen has the right to arrest bad guys Halifax Regional Police are reminding residents to act more like Superman and less like Batman when fighting crime.

Citizens can only make an arrest under certain circumstances and, just like a police officer, their actions are scrutinized.

“As a police officer, and a citizen, you can use as much force as necessary, but you’re also criminally responsible for any excessive force that may have been used,” spokesman Const. Pierre Bourdages said on Wednesday.

The message comes after a Highfield Park Drive resident made a citizen’s arrest of two people suspected of stealing his Honda Civic earlier this week. Police say the man was in a legal position to make the arrest because the car was his property.

The unnamed citizen saw his stolen truck outside a Shoppers Drug Mart, parked his rental car in front of it, confronted the other driver and pinned him to the ground. He then called police to take a man and a woman into custody.

“I’ve seen it before for something as simple as graffiti,” said Bourdages. “It does happen. It only applies in limited circumstances. We do not see them happen very often, but it does happen.”

Those circumstances include protecting your own property, pursuing a criminal or intervening in an indictable offence.