March 21, 2019 11:17 am
Updated: March 21, 2019 6:23 pm

Bag checks, bottle locks among new measures to combat Liquor Mart robberies

WATCH: MBLL's head of security describes the arresting powers available to new guards who will be assigned to Manitoba Liquor Marts.

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In light of the rash of robberies at Manitoba Liquor Marts, new tactics have been introduced by Manitoba Liquor and Lotteries – designed in consultation with Winnipeg police – to enhance security at the stores.

The crown corporation announced Thursday a new mobile team of trained loss prevention officers will work with existing security teams. They’ll be stationed at Liquor Marts during peak periods, or at stores that have experienced a spike in thefts.

Members of this new team will be be able to make citizen’s arrests and turn suspects over to police.

Liquor Marts will continue periodic use of special duty constables from the Winnipeg Police Service, saying their presence at some Liquor Mart stores earlier this year acted as a visible deterrent, as well as making staff feel more comfortable.

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


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“Individuals who take alcohol products without paying have become increasingly brazen and unpredictable when confronted, and the measures we’re taking address this shift,” said Liquor and Lotteries CEO Peter Hak.

“We want our customers and our employees to know that we take their safety seriously and we also want to send the message that if you steal from a Liquor Mart, you will be caught.”

In addition to security staff changes, there will be new protocols for customers. A “no-bag” policy means customers may be asked to check their bags with security when entering a Liquor Mart.

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

Customers may also be asked to show government-issued photo ID to a security guard at the door before entering a Liquor Mart – a tactic similar to to that used in Manitoba’s cannabis stores.

Some Liquor Marts will increase the security for products on the shelves as well, using bottle locks, dummy bottles, alarms, and lockable shelf cases for frequently-targeted items.

There’s also a new public information campaign in the works, which will include sharing information about security measures and ongoing arrests, plus new signs, posters, and online messages.

MBLL’s head of security said they could not say what the cost of the enhanced security would be, but customers need not worry about footing the bill.

“The cost is yet to be determined, because it depends on how things roll out in the future. However, there will be no additional cost –we will find means to enact these changes within our existing budgets,” Wayne Harrison said.

Harrison also said the timeline for rolling out the tactics was also still to be determined.

“We’re not going to attach a firm timeline to it, because, simply put, if we see something that we’re doing right now in one store that has a dramatic effect on it, we’re going to look to apply that quickly to all the other store in order to get as much control as we can on the issue.”

Harrison added they will know if the improvements made to their security plan are working by measuring whether they are having more or less merchandise being stolen.

WATCH: Frustrated Manitoba Liquor Mart customer recounts brazen theft

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