Manitoba

Manitoba Liquor & Lotteries' plan to stop thieves includes ID checks at the door

Manitoba Liquor & Lotteries is rolling out new security measures to try to curb the growing number of thefts and robberies in its stores.

Crown corporation unveils multi-point loss reduction strategy

Bottle locks will be used to protect frequently targeted products. (Warren Kay/CBC)

Manitoba Liquor & Lotteries is rolling out new security measures to try to curb the growing number of thefts and robberies in its stores.

The Crown corporation unveiled a multi-point theft reduction plan Thursday morning.

"Individuals who take alcohol products without paying have become increasingly brazen and unpredictable when confronted," Manitoba Liquor & Lotteries president and CEO Peter Hak said in a news release.

"We want our customers and our employees to know that we take their safety seriously and we also want to send the message that if you steal from a Liquor Mart, you will be caught."

Manitoba Liquor & Lotteries president and CEO Peter Hak says thieves at Liquor Marts are getting more brazen. (Warren Kay/CBC)

A rash of thefts and robberies in Manitoba Liquor Marts has been widely reported in the media in recent months.

In 2017, there were approximately 658 thefts in Manitoba Liquor Marts reported to Winnipeg police, Liquor & Lotteries officials said last month. In 2018, the number jumped to 2,602 — a spike of nearly 300 per cent.

Wayne Harrison, director of corporate security and surveillance with Liquor & Lotteries, said the Crown corporation lost roughly $800,000 worth of product last year as a result of what they call shrinkage, which includes thefts.

The plan

Liquor & Lotteries' security push will put new loss prevention officers — trained to catch thieves after they've left stores, using citizens' powers of arrest to hold them until police arrive — in stores during peak theft times.

Uniformed special duty constables from the Winnipeg Police Service also will be stationed in some stores, Harrison said.

Liquor & Lotteries has been working with police over the last few months and 113 arrests have been made since last October with help from police and the MLL's high-resolution digital surveillance systems, he said.

Liquor & Lotteries' new security efforts also include:

  • Checking some customers' IDs at the front door, and denying entrance to those without ID.
  • Bottle locks, alarm pedestals and lockable shelf cases.
  • Making some high-value targeted products available only by request.

Harrison said Liquor & Lotteries also will consider adding further security staff, enhanced surveillance and additional physical barriers, such as controlled entrances and exits to stores.

A rash of thefts and robberies in Manitoba Liquor Marts has been widely reported in the media in recent months. (Submitted by Manitoba Liquor and Lotteries)

The changes will "be more obvious to our customers" and the Crown corporation also is kicking off an awareness campaign to make sure everyone knows what is happening at liquor stores, Harrison said.

"You have all seen and heard what's been happening in our stores," he said.

"We are asking for the public's patience and co-operation while we implement a number of new initiatives to determine what will work best to deter these thefts."

'Everyone deserves to go home safe': MGEU

The Manitoba Government and General Employees' Union has been outspoken about the need to find solutions that would help keep staff and customers safe.

MGEU president Michelle Gawronsky said she's encouraged by the initiatives announced Thursday.

"Everyone deserves to go home safe at the end of the day, whether you're … a consumer going into the liquor store, or whether you're one of the people that are selling the product," said Gawronsky. 

She said MGEU will be speaking with members about the changes in the next couple of days.

"We are going to be monitoring with them how successful this is."

Not all of the measures will be implemented at all stores at all times, Harrison said. The cost of the plan will be covered by Liquor & Lotteries' existing budget.

Community reacts to new security:

Manitoba Liquor & Lotteries is rolling out new security measures in efforts to curb the growing number of thefts and robberies in its stores. 0:27

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