Campbell River RCMP arrested 32 people, and recovered more than $8,000 in merchandise during an eight day sting.
More than 35 charges will be forwarded to Crown counsel, most of which are for theft under $5,000.
Some additional recommended charges stemmed from catching drivers who were prohibited, people who were breaching court-related conditions to remain outside of certain stores, and resisting arrest.
“Despite the success of projects such as this and other police actions in the past, it’s very clear that some of our criminal element are clearly not getting the picture,” said Const. Maury Tyre. “Ten per cent of the arrests made in the project were duplicates, meaning three of the people got arrested twice by police over the course of eight days of work.
“Of the 32 people arrested, 25 had criminal records – including property crimes – or were awaiting sentencing on previous theft files.”
Tyre said the issue with shoplifting as a crime is it is often viewed as victimless and minor, based on the values of items people steal.
“What it has devolved into is a level of looting based on the belief of criminals that they won’t really face any penalties – or worse still – that it is somehow their right to take what they feel they want or need.
“These people, who are not stealing for sustenance, aren’t aware – or simply don’t care – that the cost of theft can shut down a small business and drive prices ever higher in large businesses. So in effect, the entire community becomes the victims of their sticky fingered ways.”
Tyre said it is estimated people who shoplift only get caught roughly one out of every fifty times.
“The largest amount recovered from a single individual at once during the sting was $832.72,” he noted. “That would mean that the person stealing at that rate could steal $41,636 before being caught again.”
Police are capable of assisting stores in their loss prevention efforts, but they are not staffed at levels capable of functioning as personal security for retailers on a regular basis, so it is extremely important for stores to be proactive themselves in preventing theft.
“By no means do we want store staff or owners to put themselves in harms way to protect merchandise,” Tyre said. “But taking simple measures and setting expectations for customers can make a world of difference in preventing thefts and identifying criminals who do walk out the doors with goods.”
Theft reduction concepts some stores use, include: lockable fitting rooms controlled by staff; no large bags in store policies (backpacks etc.); requests for people to take hoods down upon entry etc; keeping high value items away from uncontrolled exits; high value item electronic tagging; staffing loss prevention personnel; training staff to be vigilant of suspicious activity; and having high quality video surveillance easily accessible by multiple staff.
To report a crime or criminal activity, call the Campbell River RCMP at 250-286-6221.