Vancouver police say three people were arrested Monday night after one of them pulled a gun during the theft of three tubs of ice cream from a downtown grocery store.
A portion of the altercation between the suspects and an IGA employee was captured on bystander video.
According to police, a 40-year-old man tried to leave the supermarket on Robson Street without paying for the ice cream, when he was confronted by staff.
“There was a physical altercation. We believe two accomplices came to the suspect’s aid, one of them brandished a gun,” Vancouver police Sgt. Steve Addison said.
The trio fled, but police arrested them nearby. It remains unclear whether a real firearm or a replica was involved.
“This is a theft that occurred over $21 in ice cream. We know that the violence associated with thefts like this extremely traumatic for the people working in these small businesses,” Addison said.
“Often times we have young people working their first jobs, we have small business owners trying to make ends meet, and nobody should be subjected to this level of violence.”
Addison characterized the incident as the latest in a surge of violent shoplifting incidents in the city over the past two years.
Police responded to more than 750 violent shoplifting calls between the start of the year and the middle of October, he said, a 550-per cent increase over 2019.
The 40-year-old alleged thief, a 27-year-old man and a 31-year-old woman were taken to jail over the incident.
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