Should Manitoba liquor stores stock booze in the back?

Manitoba Liquor Marts are ramping up security measures. Brittany Greenslade / Global News

Manitoba Liquor and Lotteries (MBLL) is still trying to find a way to mitigate its theft problem, but the Retail Council of Canada says moving to a consumers-distributing model is not the answer.

John Graham, the retail council’s director of government relations, said having to ask a clerk to get your liquor from a back room is not for today’s consumers.

“If it’s simply limited to a behind-the-counter experience … local beverages will be lost,” Graham said.

“The selection process will just be eroded and it would not be the same positive and interesting experience that it is today.”

One security expert suggested MBLL card customers at the door.

“If everybody has to show ID at a bar, everybody should have to show ID when they purchase alcohol,” said Clifford Sandison, the head trainer at Toro Security.

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READ MORE: Winnipeg man stops Liquor Mart theft, says he’d ‘think twice’ about doing it again

“If they have a record of people who are in the store when something goes missing, then you have a narrowed-down field of who to speak with.”

MBLL said it already considered the consumers-distributing model and carding customers, but the Crown corporation believes that would put customers at risk.

“If we close our doors, then maybe they’re going to start robbing people in the parking lots,” MBLL spokesperson Andrea Kowal said at a press conference on Monday.

Some people have been unable to watch people just run past with bags of booze and get away.

On Saturday, Zoran Vicovac was shopping at the Liquor Mart on Plessis Road when he saw a group of three people filling their bags with alcohol and making a quick exit towards the door.

He says he followed them past the cash registers and then took one of them to the ground.

READ MORE: Teens arrested after video of ‘chaotic’ Liquor Mart theft posted online

“Something came over me and I thought, no, something’s got to stop,” he said.

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“As they walked past me I followed them,” Vicovac continued, describing the encounter. “Within two minutes an off-duty police officer came and placed him under arrest, and the police came about 10-15 minutes later.”

Vicovac has over a decade of experience in security, including time as a bar bouncer that helped him in this situation.

“You don’t think about it,” he said. “Your instincts take over. It becomes a point where you’re tired of it. You see it on the news; you see people getting away with things.”

Vicovac doesn’t know if he would do it again, but he hopes others don’t step in and get hurt in the process.

Winnipeg police also warn people not to intervene.

Click to play video: '‘Hundreds’ of Manitoba liquor store thefts happen per week, say officials' ‘Hundreds’ of Manitoba liquor store thefts happen per week, say officials
‘Hundreds’ of Manitoba liquor store thefts happen per week, say officials – Oct 28, 2019

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