Police in a Vancouver Island community recovered more than $8,000 in a shoplifting project in February.
Campbell River RCMP say they arrested 32 people between Feb. 8 and 18. Over 35 charges will be sent to crown council, with most of them being for theft under $5,000.
Police say shoplifting is often viewed as victimless and minor because values are low. However, they say shoplifting has changed because of a belief that criminals will not face penalties or that it is their right to take what they need.
Const. Maury Tyre of Campbell River RCMP says it is estimated that shoplifters only get caught once every 50 times. He says the largest amount recovered during the project was $832.72, meaning a person could take roughly $41,636 before being caught again.
He says despite the success of the project, many of the arrests were duplicates.
“Ten per cent of the arrests made in the project were duplicates, meaning three of the people got arrested twice by police over the course of eight days of work,” said Tyre. “Of the 32 people arrested, 25 had criminal records including property crimes or were awaiting sentencing on previous theft files.”
He says everyone needs to be involved to prevent the numbers. He says retailers can take steps by implementing no large bags in-store policies, along with asking people to remove hoodies, electronic tagging, loss prevention personnel, and having high-quality surveillance.
Tyre says while police can help, they do not have the staff to prevent all loss from stores.
“Police are capable of assisting stores in their loss prevention efforts, but they are not staffed at levels capable of functioning as personal security for retailers on a regular basis, so it is extremely important for stores to be proactive themselves in preventing theft,” said Tyre.
“By no means do we want store staff or owners to put themselves in harm’s way to protect merchandise, but taking simple measures and setting expectations for customers can make a world of difference in preventing thefts and identifying criminals who do walk out the doors with goods.”
Anyone needing to report a crime or criminal activity is asked to call Campbell River RCMP at 250-286-6221.