Police to continue retail theft crackdown with focus on spring break

Winnipeg police are trying to continue a crackdown on retail theft through a program which it says has shown some positive results so far.

It was back during the holiday season when police launched the Retail Theft Initiative, as officers looked to combat what has become a serious issue across the city.

Police ramped up resources in retail theft hot-spots and they say it’s made a difference so far.

In December 2023, retail crime was down 14 per cent compared to December 2022 and there were 138 arrests made.

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And now Insp. Jennifer McKinnon says the initiative’s focus is spring break, which starts next week.

“We’ll be conducting focused enforcement at various retail locations throughout the city over spring break,” McKinnon said. “You won’t know when and you won’t know where we are, but we will be out there. If the intention is to go out and shoplift during spring break, chances are we’re going to be out there looking for you.”

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Insp. Max Waddell says retail theft is about more than just businesses being affected. He says it actually drives violent crime in our city.

“When criminals steal goods from stores, they’re turning the goods into cash. That’s done in the underground market, that’s done in the black market,” Waddell said. “And when they convert the property into cash, they are then often buying illicit drugs, potentially weapons, and in extreme cases, buying potentially firearms.”

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