Group of alleged thieves treating LCBO stores 'like an ATM machine,' police warn
Police estimate more than $200K in goods stolen between August and December
Police have arrested two women, and are searching for up to 10 more people connected to a string of thefts at LCBO stores across Toronto.
Officers believe the alleged thieves walk into stores, take alcohol from the shelves, place it in a bag and simply walk out. They estimate more than $200,000 worth of goods have been stolen between August and December.
"Many of the people that are doing this are people with drug and alcohol dependencies, and many of them are simply treating it like an ATM machine," Supt. Neil Corrigan, unit commander of 14 Division, told CBC Toronto.
Police say many of the thefts have been taking place in the downtown core.
Corrigan's own division, which runs from the Annex to the Harbourfront, and from Kensington Market to Trinity Bellwoods Park, sees at least 10 thefts a day.
The two Toronto women arrested, a 45-year-old and a 27-year-old, were charged respectively with five and 11 counts of theft under $5,000.
'She just ignored them ... They didn't chase her'
Sergio De Sousa said he witnessed a theft similar to those police described.
"She put it in a bag, and she didn't even make a motion to go through the cashier," he remembered.
"[Employees] did confront her, they told her, 'we saw what you did, you can't do this,' and she just ignored them," De Sousa said. "She just looked down and kept walking and went out, they didn't chase her."
Corrigan says the thieves know that employees in the store are not permitted to physically stop them.
"Unfortunately not all locations have security, so these people that are responsible for these thefts take the time obviously and know where those locations are," he explained.
The LCBO says it has increased its CCTV technology and "guarding and investigator expenditures" to combat theft.
"LCBO losses due to shrinkage and shop theft are below retail industry standard," a representative said in a statement.
Police say investigators from the organization are working closely with officers.
With files from Greg Ross