Manitoba Liberals calling for crackdown of illegal online sales

WINNIPEG — The Manitoba Liberals are calling for a crackdown on online sales of stolen goods in order to reduce crime.

Liberal leader Dougald Lamont said the province should regulate online marketplaces, requiring them to follow similar rules that pawn shops abide by. 

“If you’re a pawn shop you have to keep track of whose selling, what the serial numbers are, and so on, and talk to the police if it’s a problem, but none of that is true online,” said Lamont. 

He said people are stealing from all kinds of stores, not just liquor stores, and are then selling the stolen products online. Lamont said the practice is known as “e-Fencing.” 

“These online companies are making it too easy,” said Lamont. “This stuff goes up for sale, and then the ad disappears again. I mean, really, it’s because these companies are allowed to get away with it, and they shouldn’t be allowed to.”

Lamont said companies should have to take ID from the sellers and keep track of what they’re selling. He said organized crime could be drastically reduced if it was harder for thieves to make money.

“They steal specific stuff that can easily be sold, that’s easy to carry, and frankly one of the ways to prevent it is to just cut off their revenue.”

He said this isn’t just a problem in Manitoba, but across North America. Lamont said other areas have tried to regulate online sales in the past, but have had pushback from different online platforms. 

“Some of these companies have also tried to crackdown on it, or when they find out that there’s illegal stuff going on,” said Lamont. “But it’s still not good enough.”

He said whether these companies intend to or not, they’re part of facilitating these transactions. 

“If these companies want to do business in Manitoba, they should be playing by our rules.”

Lamont wants to see the provincial government regulate online marketplaces. He said it would likely require a coordinated effort from law enforcement and the government. 

A provincial spokesperson told CTV News that selling stolen goods is a criminal offence under the Criminal Code of Canada, and noted that second-hand sales, including pawn shops, are regulated by municipalities — not the province.