March 11, 2019 6:00 am
Updated: March 11, 2019 7:41 am

Liquor thefts prompting some frustrated Winnipeggers to chase thieves

Winnipeg man stepped in as a liquor robbery was happening. Winnipeg Police and Manitoba Liquor and Lotteries do not encourage the public do so but rather call 9-1-1.

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The massive increase in liquor thefts over the past year has prompted some Winnipeggers to take matters into their own hands.

Deano Wiebe was buying groceries last Friday, when he noticed three people attempting to steal liquor from the St. James Express Liquor Mart.

“I saw them stealing some bottles, putting it inside their jacket and when I saw them coming out I grabbed two of them.

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“One guy got away, so I grabbed the girl, put her to the ground and ripped open her jacket and she had a big bottle of vodka in the jacket,” Wiebe said.

When the woman got up, Weibe followed her outside before returning the bottle to the store.

READ MORE: Brazen daylight liquor store thefts continue around Winnipeg

Liquor theft numbers have been on the rise according to the Manitoba Liquor and Lotteries – the number of incidents have increased more than 300 per cent in 2018 from 2017, from 658 thefts in Liquor Marts to more than 2,600 in 2018.

Wiebe said he’s frustrated after seeing incidents like this happen almost weekly.

“The security guard is there and he’s just standing there and I asked him ‘Are you going to do something, did you get a licence plate, the vehicle colour?’ and he goes ‘No, I can’t, I’m not allowed to.’ So why do we have security then?”

An employee who answered the phone at the Liquor Express location inside the store confirmed the incident.

READ MORE: Partnership put Winnipeg police officers in Manitoba Liquor Marts

Manitoba Liquor and Lotteries encourage their employees to call police instead of engaging thieves.

Winnipeg police did not respond when asked for comment Sunday, but they have said in the past that vigilante justice doesn’t help them.

“If your motivation is to help us, we’re not being helped by this and as a matter of fact we’re saying, ‘Don’t do this,'” said Cst. Rob Carver in 2016.

“It interferes with our ability to do our job.”

“If this does occur in your business, simply comply and allow those people to leave safely,” Cst. Tammy Skrabek said in 2018.

Wiebe said he knows both staff and police don’t want him to engage and wasnt concerned about possibly being charged with assault.

“I’m putting my life in danger, yes, but I’ll keep doing it.”

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