February 11, 2019 8:57 am
Updated: February 11, 2019 11:12 am

Partnership put Winnipeg police officers in Manitoba Liquor Marts

A Manitoba Liquor Mart location.

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In an effort to combat a rise in brazen Liquor Mart thefts, Winnipeg police and Manitoba Liquor and Lotteries placed officers in some stores last week.

“Special Duty Constables, is a service offered by the WPS for a fee,” said Andrea Kowal, communications director for MLL. “We engaged some of these special duty officers this past week at some Liquor Mart locations.”

Police and the MLL have been frustrated by the quick rise in bold booze thefts from local Liquor Marts over the past year.

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READ MORE: Manitoba Liquor Mart thefts continue despite more than 2 dozen arrests

Some of the thefts included throwing bottles at security guards, teens who tried to assault police officers when chased down, and one who managed to swipe $20,000 worth of alcohol over 18 robberies.

Incident numbers rose more than 300 per cent in 2018 from 2017, from 658 thefts in Liquor Marts to more than 2,600 in 2018, said Kowal.

In August, Const. Jay Murray called the thefts brazen.

“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 were proving to be a drain on police resources.

Since October, police have arrested 62 people, said Kowal.

Putting police officers in Liquor Marts to deter theft may continue, but neither Kowal or the police would confirm if that would happen.

READ MORE: Teen charged after $20K in booze swiped from Manitoba Liquor Marts

“The Winnipeg Police Service continues to work closely with Manitoba Liquor and Lotteries on theft prevention strategy,” Murray said Sunday.

“We have in the past had special duty officers at Liquor Marts.”

“Sharing details about security and anti-theft measures might compromise their effectiveness and could place our staff and customers at risk,” said Kowal.

The head of the union that covers Liquor Mart employees said she thinks it’s a good move.

“This is an important first step. We’re very pleased the MLL are definitely taking this issue seriously. We appreciate that, and we’re going to continue to be willing to work with them on this,” said Michelle Gawronsky, president of the Manitoba Government and General Employees’ Union.

“The folks that work in the liquor stores – knowing that at any given moment, you don’t know what could happen, there could be a theft. It takes a real toll physically, mentally and emotionally on these people.”

WATCH: Police investigating 1,200 thefts from Liquor Mart stores in 2018

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