Social media an open market for Winnipeg thieves looking to sell, says site administrator

The administrator of a Winnipeg-based peer-to-peer buy-and-sell group says online sites like his are increasingly becoming hot spots for thieves looking to quickly unload their stolen goods.And as rampant shoplifting continues to make headlines in Winnipeg, Ryan Kochie says those responsible for the crime are getting more and more brazen online.Story continues below

Some are even taking orders, he says.“People are doing it almost like a side business for themselves,” said Kochie, who has helped run the Winnipeg Buy/Sell Facebook group for the last two years.“It’s not so much like they’re stealing things for them to use, they’re stealing it to sell and some people are doing it for a profit … to pay bills or whatever.”Numbers from Winnipeg police show the city saw a 77 per cent increase in the theft of store merchandise under $5,000 last year.While shoplifting at city liquor stores has garnered the most attention recently, grocery stores, clothing stores and drug stores are also popular targets for thieves.READ MORE: ‘We have baseball bats’: Winnipeg grocer not taking chances with shopliftersKochie says items stolen from those stores — everything from makeup and baby formula to dish soap and Tide Pods — are turning up for sale online at deep discounts.“You think someone’s just selling for cheap, but chances are they’re just making money for nothing,” he said.“You’re probably buying stolen goods. It’s more common than you think.”Kochie says he’s seen a marked decrease in thieves using his site to fence items since the group implemented strict rules to curb such behaviour over the last year or so.Those rules include asking sellers to provide proof of purchase for suspicious items and banning users who can’t produce receipts.WATCH: ‘It’s quadrupled;’ Food Fare owner says brazen thefts not limited to Manitoba Liquor Marts