This year, there have been plenty of news reports about shoplifters in the downtown core of Vancouver.
Today, police said they've arrested 195 offenders during a monthlong campaign targeting this criminal activity.
The campaign also led to the recovery of $75,000 worth of stolen property.
“Business owners and their staff continue to struggle with prolific, and often violent thieves, who seem to think they can steal with impunity,” Sgt. Steve Addison said in a VPD news release. “Since November 4, a dedicated group of VPD officers has worked directly with retail staff in the downtown core to identify and apprehend shoplifters. The results are alarming.”
The campaign led to 323 incidents being investigated and 330 criminal charges. In 23 instances, a weapon was used in the commission of an offence.
The VPD cited the following examples in its news release:
* "A 48-year-old man walked into a cosmetics retailer near Howe and Georgia Street on December 4 and tried to steal a bottle of perfume valued at $184. When a 22-year-old staff member followed the man out of the store, the suspect turned and charged at the employee with a metal chain. The suspect fled, but was later arrested and has now been charged with theft and assault with a weapon."
* "A man with 39 prior criminal convictions tried to steal two $30 pillows from a department store on Granville Street and was arrested by VPD officers on November 19. Officers found the man in possession of a knife, metal knuckles, and padded gloves. The 28-year-old suspect later failed to attend court and is now wanted B.C.-wide."
* "A man who was already on probation for theft was caught stealing a $2,500 laptop from a computer store on West Georgia Street on November 7. VPD officers took him to jail, but he was later released from custody and told to come back to court on another day. The man, who has 69 prior criminal convictions, was re-arrested 11 days later after he tried to steal $60 in hair tongs from a downtown department store."
Addison said that 60 percent of those arrested revealed that they did not have a permanent place to sleep. They planned to sell stolen merchandise online or in the Downtown Eastside.
“It’s troubling for our officers to see the same offenders—many of whom are living with complex social needs like drug addiction, poverty, and mental illness—repeatedly getting arrested for such low-level crimes,” the sergeant stated.