A local restaurateur says his businesses have been subjected to theft and vandalism in what seems to be a citywide trend.
Ravi Ramberran — who runs the Four Crowns Inn, Dreamland Diner, St. James Burger and the Stagger Inn — told Global Winnipeg he’s spent a lot of money on repairs and security measures to help curb crime at his businesses, which are located in various parts of the city.
Ramberran said it doesn’t seem to matter the location or time of day — crime happens.
“Even at Dreamland Diner, it’s a family restaurant, and our target market is kids and elders … we get people coming in there at 4:00 in the afternoon trying to steal tips, trying to do dumb stuff,” he said.
“And that’s on Portage and Moray, a beautiful area, great neighbourhood. A school’s right there, church across the street.”
Ramberran said after break-ins at all four of his businesses, he has beefed up security measures, but theft and vandalism continue.
“We have a lot of incidents happening that are just painful, because it makes it harder to recruit people. It makes it hard for people to feel safe coming to work.
“We’re at a point where we’ve got all the tech in place to help protect us, but with all that tech in place, all these new alarms and all these new fancy gadgets are lighting up every night, warning us that people are trying to get in the building. It’s non-stop.”
Restaurant, hotel staff fed up with crime
Liz Chodor, who works overnights at the Four Crowns, said her job can sometimes lead to dicey situations, but she feels confident her co-workers are looking out for one another in case an incident occurs.
“It’s hairy at times, but fortunately I have the security and the new systems put in place. We all watch each other’s back,” Chodor said.
“The scariest thing that ever happened to me was I had a gentleman confront me outside and smack me across the face.
“My security was right there immediately, but unfortunately I still got hit, and unfortunately the police were involved.”
Owners frustrated by ongoing theft at Winnipeg grocery stores
Ramberran’s restaurants are far from the only local businesses feeling the effects of petty crime.
Food Fare owner Ramsey Zeid told Global Winnipeg while shoplifting is hardly a new problem, it has definitely gotten worse, and many of those stealing seem to be doing so out of desperation.
“It has been increasing lately. People just don’t have the money that they used to,” he said.
“Prices have been increasing with a variety of things, not just groceries … so people have to really pick and choose what they’re buying and how much they’re buying.
“Unfortunately right now there’s so much happening that when you do call police, it takes a little while for them to show up … but things have been getting better with the Winnipeg police and the new unit that’s been formed, so hopefully it cuts back (on crime).”
If food prices continue to go up, he said, people may feel like they have no other choice but to steal.
Winnipeg police step up enforcement with retail theft prevention initiative
Both Ramberran and Zeid say they’re encouraged by police efforts to crack down on retail theft through a new initiative that has seen hundreds of arrests since its November 2023 launch.
The initiative — launched in partnership with the Retail Council of Canada and the city’s business community — is in response to a reported 44 per cent year-over-year increase in shoplifting incidents for items under $5,000.
“No one is immune,” police Insp. Jennifer McKinnon said at a press conference last month.
“We will be out there. I won’t say when and I am not going to say where, (but) if you are going to shoplift, we are going to be there.”
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