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Customers, union ponder solutions to Manitoba liquor store thefts

Manitoba Liquor Mart wine
. File / Global News

As Winnipeg police announced yet another liquor store theft in the province, both customers and the union representing store employees are searching for solutions.

The latest in the string of thefts has yet again hit Manitoba Liquor and Lotteries hard: police said on Tuesday a woman robbed Liquor Marts a total of 19 times over a 10-week period.

READ MORE: Winnipeg woman charged in 19 Liquor Mart thefts, several clothing store thefts

In total, $800,000 worth of liquor has been taken from liquor stores in roughly 1,300 thefts.

And that’s just in the last year.

But while there is a lot of product being taken in 2018, there’s not a lot of answers on what to do.

MGEU, the union representing a large chunk of the province’s liquor store workers, believes that there are multiple steps that could be taken.

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“I am meeting with the head of Manitoba Liquor and Lotteries to sit down and figure out how we move in a positive direction,” Union President Michelle Gawronsky said. “We have lots of suggestions and ideas. I’m going to rely on the folks that work in the liquor stores: they are the experts.”

RELATED: Manitoba Liquor & Lotteries responds after rash of thefts at Liquor Marts

Outside of one Liquor Mart on Tuesday, customers going in and out suggested hiring more staff and security. Three Winnipeggers said they believe the answer could lie in giving security more rights. Instead of the current “no chase” policy, they think more authority would help curb the issue: especially if staff could apprehend thiefs.

Another idea is to keep the liquor out of reach. Customers would have to line up and ask staff to get their booze from a secure area, kind of like the way cannabis will be purchased when legal next month.

For now, the MGEU has a meeting with Manitoba Liquor and Lotteries later this month and Gawronksy said she’s sure they will discuss all of those options.

For their part, Manitoba Liquor and Lotteries sent a statement to Global News that expressed “talking about security and anti-theft policies in a public forum is compromising the safety of our staff and customers and undermining the effectiveness of possible solutions to this problem.”

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