March 7, 2019 2:15 pm
Updated: March 7, 2019 3:47 pm

Staff making arrests not a solution to liquor thefts, says security analyst

A Manitoba Liquor Mart location.

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Despite calls for Winnipeg Liquor Mart staff to react more aggressively in response to ongoing daylight booze thefts, a loss prevention consultant says there are a number of reasons why that’s unlikely to happen.

Wednesday, Ryan Watson told Global News about a robbery he witnessed just this past Sunday.

WATCH: Frustrated Manitoba Liquor Mart customer recounts brazen theft

Watson said two men casually walked past a line-up of customers at the checkout and went right out the door.

He said the pair had “armfuls” of bottles, made no effort to hide the fact that they were taking them, but neither the cashier nor the security guard did anything about it.

READ MORE: Brazen daylight liquor store thefts continue around Winnipeg


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Retail security analyst Stephen O’Keefe told 680 CJOB that staff – including security guards – at retail stores aren’t necessarily given free rein to make arrests if they witness a theft, and typically do not engage.

“The liquor stores are not standalone unique when they tell regular employees not to arrest,” said O’Keefe.

“Regular employees across the country – and it’s a good practice – are told not to make arrests.

“First, under the criminal code, they may not have all the elements to be able to execute a proper arrest. Second, there’s been a lot of new legislation around the licensing of private investigators. Thirdly, and probably the most important, is the safety aspect in order to make a safe arrest.”

Stephen O’Keefe

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O’Keefe, who does not have Manitoba Liquor and Lotteries as a client, said in many cases, security guards are also told not to make arrests, but rather to collect evidence for police.

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

“With the amount of technology that’s now available, you really don’t have to arrest people on the spot,” he said.”You can work with police and execute an arrest after the fact.

“Manitoba Liquor is probably doing the same thing a lot of retailers are doing, which is collecting the evidence and then having police knock on someone’s door and arresting them after the fact.”

O’Keefe said there are a number of preventative measures Liquor Marts could conceivably take – from controlled access doors, to security tags, to alarms that go off as soon as a thief exits the building – to help reduce liquor thefts.

The idea of keeping all of the products behind the counter, however, is something he doesn’t think will fly in a liquor store.

“As a retailer, you won’t find that too many people are in favour of doing that from a retail standpoint,” he said. “The priority of any retailer is to sell merchandise to a customer, to make that experience easy, not to make it restrictive.”

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

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