Manitoba Liquor & Lotteries (MLL) says security entrances installed at Manitoba Liquor Mart locations have led to a sharp drop in the rampant — and at times violent — thefts the Crown corporation was seeing at stores in 2019.
So far 43 stores have controlled entrances installed, including all 36 Winnipeg locations, four stores in Brandon, two in Portage la Prairie and one in Selkirk.
The MLL says its five hardest-hit stores recorded a combined 2,633 thefts in the six months before the doors were installed, and those same five stores saw just 66 thefts in the six months after the new entrances went into operation — a 97.5 per cent drop.
“All of us at Manitoba Liquor & Lotteries are pleased with the results the controlled entrances have had in significantly reducing the incidents of thefts — and especially robberies — at our Liquor Marts,” MLL president and CEO Manny Atwal said in a release.
“To be able to return our stores to a place where our customers and employees are able to shop and work without the looming threat of violence has been a great relief.”
Stores with the new entrances have the inner door locked, and customers have to have a valid photo ID scanned at a security station before being allowed in.
The Crown corporation hastily announced plans to begin installing the security features in November 2019 after a female employee was punched in the head and knocked unconscious during a violent robbery at the Tyndall Park Liquor Mart in Winnipeg.
But thefts and robberies had been rampant at liquor stores for a few years before video of the employee’s assault shocked Winnipeggers, with MLL numbers at the time showing incidents of theft had jumped more than 300 per cent in 2018 from 2017.
During the worst week — which the MLL now says was Aug. 12 to 18, 2019 — Liquor Marts reported a total of 462 thefts.
But now, with security doors installed at 43 of Manitoba’s 63 Liquor Marts, the MLL says thefts averaged just 12 a week between Nov. 30, 2020 and Jan. 3, 2021.
And for the thefts that do still occur, employees are now able to provide law enforcement with identification information, the MLL says.
With the drop in thefts, the MLL says it’s also seen a significant impact on its bottom line.
The MLL says between April 1 and Dec. 31, 2019 it lost slightly more than $2.3 million in shrinkage — or theft — but that number fell to $193,000 over the same period last year, a 92 per cent reduction.
The MLL says it had budgeted just over $2.5 million to have all 43 controlled entrances installed, and, while the final numbers are still be worked out, a spokesperson for the the Crown corporation says they are “on track” to come in under budget for the project.