Nearly 300 charges laid, 130 arrested, as Vancouver police target shoplifting

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VANCOUVER — A month-long crackdown has resulted in nearly 300 recommended criminal charges against people police allege are violent and prolific shoplifters working in downtown Vancouver.

A statement from Vancouver police says officers worked closely with retailers and store security teams over four weeks, ending Feb. 12.

The crackdown identified 250 alleged shoplifting incidents leading to 130 arrests and 268 recommended criminal charges.

Police say just over $37,000 in stolen merchandise was recovered, along with 35 weapons, and 45 of those arrested were either the subject of a warrant or were allegedly breaching bail conditions when they were taken into custody.

Insp. Rob Clarke says the crackdown was launched in response to concerns about increasing criminal activity in the downtown core.

He says he is hopeful the initiative sends a message that thieves are being watched and can expect to be arrested and charged.

"Last year in the downtown core, (Vancouver police) saw a 260 per cent increase in shoplifting incidents involving weapons, such as bear spray, knives, needles, and guns, when compared with the previous year,” Clarke says in the statement.

Among the cases, police say one man arrested for allegedly shoplifting at a Lululemon store had a full can of bear spray up his sleeve, while a woman arrested at a London Drugs store was alleged to be carrying a large knife and a firearm, violating a court-ordered firearms prohibition.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 17, 2021.

The Canadian Press