Controlled entrances outfitted at certain Manitoba Liquor Mart locations in response to brazen, sometimes violent thefts are paying off, according to Manitoba Liquor and Lotteries (MBLL).
CEO Manny Atwal told a legislative committee today thefts and robberies have been on the rise for nearly two years — doubling during the 2018-19 fiscal year — and peaking at over 400 a week.
“A multi-faceted strategy to address the issue was launched over a year ago, and while we saw some initial improvement, we were unable to stem the frequency, and in particular, the brazenness of these issues and these incidents,” Atwal said.
The crown corporation was in the midst of piloting the controlled entrances, Atwal said, when, in November 2019, employee Randi Chase was knocked unconscious during a particularly violent robbery where at least ten victims were identified.
That event and the ensuing public outcry led MBLL to expedite the secure entrances, and now six months later, Atwal says they’re recording fewer than a dozen robberies or thefts a week.
“While this has been an extensive undertaking, I’m pleased that we’ve been able to accomplish this phase of the initiative on time and under budget,” Atwal said, adding retail thefts totaled approximately $2.9 million in the last fiscal year.
The new entrances won’t let a customer enter until a worker unlocks the front door, they must then have their ID scanned before being allowed access to the store’s interior.
Atwal refused to tell the committee exactly how many of the entrances have been installed so far, citing “safety and security,” but said a majority of Winnipeg’s locations have them, and many more outside city limits will have them soon.
Pressed by opposition critic Adrien Sala, Atwal affirmed the data gathered from each customer’s ID is sent directly to their security office on Pacific Avenue and purged every night, unless an incident is reported.
If there is a reported incident, Atwal says security services would review video footage of the incident, discover when a suspect entered the store, find the ID scanned at that time, and hand the information to Winnipeg police.
“That data is not compared to any other database or anything that is out there at this point in time,” Atwal said.