White van allegedly following young women in Surrey, social media post says

A social media post is warning women in Surrey about a white van and police are asking anyone impacted to come forward.

A social media post is warning young women in Surrey’s Newton neighbourhood to be on high alert, after several have come forward claiming they’ve been followed.

Gurpreet Kaur Parmar, founder of the Kaur Movement which provides resources and supports for victims of domestic and sexual abuse, said received four messages from women earlier this month, prompting her to put out the alert.

The post said women under 25 have been followed by two to four men in white vans near the Tamaanawis and Panorama area. 

After she published her post, more women came forward.

“It was very concerning,” Parmar told CTV News.

She said she encouraged the women to report the incidents to police but they were hesitant because they felt like officers could not do much to help since they didn’t get a licence plate or they felt like it would be time-consuming to file a report.

“It should still be reported and it's really sad to see that the women are reaching out to me before they're reaching out to the cops,” Parmar said.

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SFU criminology professor Rob Gordon said it is important to report to police because each snippet of information can be helpful.

“Any good police work -- community police work in particular – involves the accumulation of information. Some of it is useful, apparently. Some of it is not useful, apparently. But they're all bits of information, which a crime analyst can piece together and produce a very useful picture,” Gordon explained.

Surrey RCMP are also asking the women to reach out to officers and so far, they said one person has done so.

“We received information of a possible incident. However, details were very limited and investigators are working on obtaining more details,” said Const. Gurvinder Ghag.

“As we've seen in the past, social media posts can create fear. And it's difficult for us to determine the legitimacy of these posts. So unless people actually report to police, it's hard for us to determine the legitimacy of these posts,” she said.

Parmar has also set up a team of male volunteers in the neighbourhood who will be available around the clock if anyone feels unsafe.

“They're scared to call the cops. So if they're reaching out to us, we have people that would actually go to that spot right away…it's a safe way of protecting our own and it's connecting with the Sikh community,” Parmar said.

She said her volunteers would not get out of the vehicle or engage with the suspects, but rather, gather evidence that police may find useful.

Gordon believes situations can quickly escalate and the volunteers would put themselves in danger or accost someone who’s innocent.

“Don't get caught up in the romance of running around in the community, protecting people from what may well turn out to be phantoms,” he said.

“You can go out as citizens patrol under police supervision, that's a far better way of proceeding than just simply running around the streets, as I say, behaving like a bunch of cowboys because that's going to get you into trouble,” he explained.

Parmar said she does encourage the women to contact police first and her goal is to warn others to be vigilant.