December 16, 2016 4:03 pm
Updated: December 16, 2016 8:09 pm

Smash-and-grab robberies hit Winnipeg small businesses hard this holiday season


WINNIPEG — Their store shelves were stocked with holiday merchandise ready to sell but a thieving Grinch has put a damper on the Christmas season for a number of local businesses.

Ordnry Clothing in the Exchange District has been targeted twice in the last month by burglars.

“It sucks,” said manager Devon Kettner. “The first time they took the till and they smashed through the left window with a rock. The second time they smashed the window with a brick and stole a bunch of clothes.”

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Thousands of dollars in merchandise and sales stolen right before the holiday shopping rush. It’s left the company at a loss, not only financially, but trying to figure out what more they can possibly do to protect themselves.

“We have an alarm in place,” said Kettner. “We lock our doors, we have magnets on all of our clothes, we have a storage basement, we lock up all of our clothes that aren’t on the floor. We do as much as we can.”

Earlier in the week, Friday Knights, a pop-up store on Graham Avenue, was also robbed. Police said in both instances thieves threw bricks through the windows.

READ MORE: ‘They stole Christmas from us’: Winnipeg pop-up shop broken into

Break-ins not only hurt the local businesses, but put many owners and entrepreneurs in the area on high alert.

“This is the time of year when retail stores make most of their money for the entire year,” said Lennard Taylor, who owns a clothing company in the Exchange.  “January, February and March are are very tough months for retail and having almost all your stock stolen in the height of Christmas season is gut wrenching.”

The Winnipeg Police Service recommends the businesses use suitable locks, monitored alarm systems, adequate indoor/outdoor lighting and secure store safes. In addition, they suggest investing in window screens and burglar resistant glass windows.

But for many of these stores, covering up their windows means a loss of business.

“It’s really tough because we have to have storefront windows for the people walking around,” said Taylor. “Windows are so easy to break. It’s unnerving but you have an alarm system and you hope for the best that your store is not the next one.”

On Thursday, the Winnipeg Police Service rolled out a new downtown safety strategy that in part will help reduce the perception that downtown isn’t safe.

It includes a dedicated team of foot patrol officers responsible for the area.

The Exchange Biz also has patrols around the area. Their team does two patrols every day, Monday to Friday and four patrols every evening 4 p.m. to midnight, Tuesday through Saturday.

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