Manitoba

Police warn against photographing criminals as videos of Liquor Mart thefts make social media rounds

With several recent videos showing thefts at liquor stores making the rounds on social media, Winnipeg police are warning bystanders not to intervene and to keep their phones in their pockets when they see a crime in progress.

Bystander videos of store thefts typically aren't helpful in catching thieves: Winnipeg police spokesperson

Police are aware of the videos showing thefts at Liquor Marts appearing on social media, a spokesperson said, but they don't necessarily help in investigations. (Trevor Brine/CBC)

With several recent videos showing thefts at liquor stores making the rounds on social media, Winnipeg police are warning bystanders not to intervene and to keep their phones in their pockets when they see a crime in progress.

"In terms of getting involved, we don't recommend it. It's not safe," Const. Rob Carver told CBC News Saturday.

"We've had incidents, certainly in the last while, where customers have attempted to intervene and have been assaulted, sometimes with weapons."

Even taking a photo or video isn't worth the risk, Carver said.

"Just because you're not intervening directly, doesn't mean that pulling out your phone and recording them is safe," he said.

"If they take offence at that and come at you, you've got a $500 or $1,000 [phone] in your hand that could be smashed. You could be attacked if they don't like what you're doing."

He added police are aware of the videos appearing on social media, but that they don't necessarily help in investigations.

"I'm not aware of one instance, and there's a lot of these, where a private citizen's cellphone recording of the event has helped us arrest somebody," he said.

"All of the stores have high-def video. We're getting that video on a regular basis, teams are reviewing it, we're linking the videos to suspects and making arrests on a regular basis.

"None of that has been facilitated by someone recording it themselves."

If you see a crime in progress, Carver said, you should find a safe place to wait until it's over.

Liquor stores in this province are getting robbed hundreds of times a week, only months after Manitoba Liquor and Lotteries unveiled a strategy to reduce the incidence of theft. 2:02