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Helping police through Amber Alert
Jul 10, 2009

WinnipegREALTORS® was pleased to announce on May 21, 2009, its participation in the Manitoba Amber Alert Network. The intent is to help key partners in the network, such as the Winnipeg Police Service and Child Find Manitoba, find a missing child. 

“Through the use of simultaneous paging or text messaging technology, over 1,000 REALTORS® will now be  extra ‘eyes and ears’ to help find a mis-sing child,” WinnipegREALTORS® explained in a press release announcing its participation in Amber Alert.

“Our more recent adoption of a sophisticated messaging technology and the successful testing of it in the past few months has made it possible for WinnipegREALTORS® to volunteer its 1,000-plus REALTOR® Touchbase Real Estate messaging system to assist the Winnipeg Police Service as a new partner in the Manitoba Amber Alert Network,” said Deborah Goodfellow, president of WinnipegREALTORS®. 

“We are very pleased to do our part in helping the police deal with one of the most difficult and pressing situations possible, since a missing child in danger is such an all-encompassing community concern when everyone must act expediently and responsibly to ensure a successful outcome.”

It was also mentioned at the time that success has already been achieved using the same Touchbase messaging system technology by networks of REALTORS® in other regions of Canada.  Lower mainland British Columbia REALTORS® were singled out for their exemplary Realty Watch program which encompasses Amber Alert. In 2000, a REALTOR® in Langley, B.C., helped the RCMP by spotting a missing boy and immediately calling 911. This boy was reunited with his anxious parents.

While WinnipegREALTORS® indicated it has not yet committed its organization to receiving other fan-out messages from the police besides the most urgent Amber Alert, it certainly can in the future assist on serious missing persons matters through its instantaneous text-messaging service.  

Only a week after WinnipegREALTORS® announced its participation in Amber Alert with Winnipeg Police Chief Keith McCaskill present, Lower Mainland REALTORS® reported another success story. The following article gives WinnipegREALTORS® confidence that its network of mobile REALTORS® can one day report its own success story. 

Missing senior located 

by Realty Watch

SURREY, B.C., June 8, 2009  — The White Rock RCMP credit Realty Watch, the community crime prevention program of Lower Mainland REALTORS®, for helping them locate a missing vulnerable senior within one hour of asking for their assistance.

The RCMP issued a press release at 10:05 a.m., Thursday morning, May 28, 2009, asking the public for help in locating a 91-year-old female, suffering from dementia, missing from her care home in White Rock, B.C., since the early morning.

At 10:29 a.m., they contacted the Fraser Valley Real Estate Board requesting it issue a Realty Watch “fan-out” — a text message that is sent simultaneously to its 3,000 members — only used in urgent circumstances such as missing people. At 10:50 a.m., every REALTOR® in the Fraser Valley received a 300-character message including the woman’s description, last-known location and an appeal to be on the lookout. 

At 11:28 a.m., Cst. Janelle Canning, media liaison officer with the White Rock RCMP, sent a follow-up e-mail to Realty Watch. “Thanks so much, we have located the female with your REALTORS’® help! Yeah, Realty Watch!”

That REALTOR® was Dan Korness of Royal LePage Northstar Realty in Surrey. His story illustrates why REALTORS® are an excellent public safety tool for police. They’re always on the move, and present across all neighbourhoods and are equipped with communication devices.

On the morning the senior was reported missing, Korness was showing a house on 20th Avenue in South Surrey. He was outside with his clients when an elderly woman walking nearby on the sidewalk stumbled and fell. Another passerby reached her first then everyone joined in to offer assistance. Other than a few scrapes, she appeared to be okay, but to be on the safe side, an ambulance was called.

An hour later, Korness was now kilometres away at a different White Rock listing when he received the Realty Watch fan-out text message for a missing person. The description strongly resembled the elderly woman that had fallen, in particular, her age, hair colour and white sweater.

“I just put two and two together. So I called the police telling them that I thought the missing senior they were looking for might be at the Peace Arch Hospital and told them the story of what happened in front of the house.”

The White Rock RCMP took down his information, including the fact that he was a REALTOR® and member of Realty Watch, then contacted the hospital to confirm that it was indeed the missing woman, who was recovering nicely from her fall and would be returning safely to her care home.

“Realty Watch was instrumental in locating her,” said Cst. Canning. “We’d like to offer special thanks to Dan Korness and all REALTORS® for caring for their communities by participating in this program.”

This is Realty Watch’s third success in the Fraser Valley — REALTORS® spotted a runaway boy in 2000 and a missing teen in 2006. Over 12,800 REALTORS® in Greater Vancouver, Fraser Valley and Chilliwack participate in the program. Find more information at www.realtywatch.net