‘Significant increase’ in thefts at Manitoba liquor stores, say Winnipeg police

Click to play video 'Police investigating 1,200 thefts from MLCC stores in 2018' Police investigating 1,200 thefts from MLCC stores in 2018
WATCH: Winnipeg police Const. Jay Murray says the number of thefts from Winnipeg liquor stores so far this year is taking a toll on police resources – Aug 31, 2018

Winnipeg police are sounding the alarm on the number of thefts happening at liquor stores across the city.

Since January, the police have received 1,182 reports of thefts at liquor marts across Winnipeg.

READ MORE: Teens hit officer’s head with bottles; $5,200 worth of booze stolen from Manitoba Liquor Mart

“It’s a figure that’s been rising over the last year. It’s one that’s substantially risen,” Const. Jay Murray said.

“Thieves are getting pretty brazen, often they’ll resort to using weapons to commit their act, to commit the theft and escape.”

Murray said the booze thefts are proving to be a drain on police resources.

“Every one of those thefts requires investigation, requires a detective to look into it. Often there’s video surveillance associated with these files and they take a substantial amount of work,” Murray said.

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“You often have multiple suspects. We see these crimes being committed by parties of individuals. Everyone of those suspects, we need to pursue as well.”

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Manitoba Liquor and Lotteries (MLL) uses surveillance footage to monitor their stores, but said the issue of thefts is rising.

“Unfortunately, we have seen an increase in theft occurrences,” Communications Officer Susan Harrison said.

“We have a strong partnership with the Winnipeg Police Service and are pleased with the number of arrests that have been made in recent weeks. We take the security and safety of our employees and customers very seriously.”

MLL tracks what they call “shrinkage amounts” – or thefts – annually. Typically, the corporation loses about .14 per cent of total sales to theft, she said, amounting to a “couple hundred thousand [dollars] a year.”

Right now, the thefts are tracking higher this year than last year, she said.

Murray said more needs to be done to prevent these types of thefts.

“We’ll work with the authority in charge of the liquor marts to try and reduce that number. To an extent, there has to be prevention on their end as well,” he said.

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Harrison would not go into how employees are trained to react to thefts, but said they have a security and surveillance department that works seven days a week.

LISTEN: 680 CJOB interview with MLL spokesperson Susan Harrison