After a month-long project to target violent and prolific shoplifters in Downtown Vancouver, the Vancouver Police Department (VPD) released the results of their crackdown today (February 17).
The VPD launched the four-week Project Arrow, which was concluded on February 12, after a 260 percent jump in shoplifting incidents in the downtown area that involved weapons—including guns, knives, bear spray, and needles—compared to the previous year, according to VPD Insp. Rob Clarke.
At a news conference, Insp. Clarke stated that although police had seen an overall decrease in property crime over the past year—due to reduced numbers of people in the area and closed businesses in the downtown core during pandemic restrictions—violent shoplifting increased, with a spike just before the holiday season.
Insp. Clarke stated that police received calls from staff or loss prevention officers who were facing abusive and violent behaviour, including harassment, threats, or assaults, and sometimes involved young female clerks who were working alone.
During the project, police investigated 250 shoplifting incidents and arrested 130 offenders (with 268 recommended charges). In addition, 45 of those offenders were either wanted or were breaking bail conditions.
Officers seized 35 weapons, and recovered and returned a total of $37,093 in stolen merchandise to merchants.
Among the arrests, a 44-year-old violent offender allegedly stole six items worth $648 from the Lululemon store on Robson Street on January 23. This suspect allegedly had a can of bear spray in his sleeve, and was arrested and charged with theft under $5,000. He had previously served a seven-year sentence for manslaughter, and he’s now charged with assault causing bodily harm.
Then on January 28, a loss prevention officer at the London Drugs store on Granville Street observed a 24-year-old woman allegedly steal cosmetics. Police arrested the suspect, who was carrying a large knife and a firearm, for theft and for violating a court-ordered firearms ban. She was charged with theft under $5,000.
Meanwhile, a known offender with a previous manslaughter conviction allegedly stole two LED flashlights from London Drugs on Robson Street on February 9. This suspect, who was on probation for two previous thefts and banned from all B.C. London Drugs stores, was arrested and charged with theft under $5,000.