Winnipeg shop owners forced to look for new ways to combat shoplifting

Winnipeg shop owners forced to look for new ways to combat shoplifting, Iryna Chyrkova

The number of thefts in the shops of Winnipeg is increasing every year according to the official statistics of the police.

In 2016, 1855 such incidents were registered, in 2017 their number increased to 2,790, and in 2018 there were already 4,465 cases. That is why local Winnipeg entrepreneurs have to invent new ways to combat shoplifting.

Patrol Sgt. Phil Penner connects the growth of crime in the city with meth crisis.

“People are out in the community, they’re trying to get some money for their next fix,” Penner said. “Shoplifting is certainly a way to go about that. They’re going to go in, grab what they can and sell it for a quick buck.”

Penner also noted that the increase in the number of steals is reflected not only in shop owners but also in the police itself. “There’s property loss for the stores and then it’s taxing on our resources as well, because we do get these investigations for follow up,” he added.

Sonny Brar, the chair of the Loss Prevention Advisory Council, said his organization is doing a lot of work with the police and retailers to improve the situation. He also noted that the actions of thieves are becoming more sophisticated, many of them prepare a crime in advance.

“If they have a store that they’re targeting, they will come in during regular hours and they will observe CCTV cameras,” said Brar.

Thieves can also work in groups to distract store personnel. The Retail Council reported that in 2018, shoplifting brought $27 million in losses in the province. Shop owners have even begun to resort to using new technologies to their losses.

Canadian Tire stores in Winnipeg started using face recognition system to protect from shoplifting.

“Facial Recognition software is currently being used solely for loss prevention in six Canadian Tire stores in Winnipeg, and approximately 15% of stores nationally. Each Canadian Tire store is independently operated and it is up to the associate dealer to determine what security measures are implemented in their store,” Canadian Tire spokesman wrote in the official statement.

Downtown Family Foods co-owner Kevin Schmidt noted that not everyone can afford high-tech equipment, especially small business owners. In addition to the usual surveillance cameras, he decided to increase the number of employees in stores, considering that an extra pair of eyes would not be superfluous.

“People who do it, they’re not afraid to do it. They walk in, stuff’s gone, they’re in and out within minutes,” Schmidt said.

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