Halton police are trying to track down two people who they believe are hitting shops in Burlington and stealing chewing gum, as part of an organized retail theft scheme.
Const. Naresh Dabas told CBC News that the first theft happened on the morning of June 28, when a man and a woman went into the Giant Tiger at 2025 Guelph Line and stole a double sized air mattress and 30 packs of gum.
The value of the stolen goods is estimated at around $120, he said.
Then, throughout the fall, the pair has repeatedly hit a Food Basics at 5353 Lakeshore Road, stealing hundreds of dollars worth of gum and baby formula in the process, police allege.
"They've hit that Food Basics multiple times," Dabas said. "I just don't see anybody consuming that much gum on their own."
Instead, police believe this is a case of "organized retail crime," where thieves systematically strip stores of a specific, targeted item and then resell it to recoup large profits.
In these instances, thieves don't tend to go after electronics or jewelry, which most people commonly associate with smash and grabs — instead, they target things like cologne, baby formula, clothes, and yes, gum.
Police say that organized retail crime costs Canadian businesses billions of dollars each year.
Dabas says the pair have been targeting these stores early in the morning and late at night, when fewer staffers would be available.
The woman is described as white and in her late 50s, around five foot eight inches tall, with a medium build and long blond hair.
The man is described as black and in his mid-60s, around six feet tall, and is usually seen wearing a black hat, trench coat, and a suit and tie.
Anyone with information is asked to contact police or Crime Stoppers.