Skip to content

Winnipeg police say new program aimed at curbing retail theft is working

The Manitoba government is putting up $1.1 million dollars for a plan to address a rise in retail theft and violent crime in some parts of Winnipeg. A Winnipeg Police Service shoulder badge is shown in Winnipeg, Tuesday, Nov. 5, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/John Woods

WINNIPEG — The Manitoba government is putting up $1.1 million to address a rise in retail theft and violent crime in some parts of Winnipeg.

The temporary program was announced in May, with no cost estimate and few details, as a way to pay for police to work overtime in hot spots such as retail stores and malls. The program targets three areas of the city: the Exchange District, Osborne Village and the West End.

The $1.1 million allows the program to continue until the end of August, said Justice Minister Matt Wiebe.

The Winnipeg Police Service heralded the program as making a difference, with 203 arrests in recent weeks.

"These are all proactive arrests that wouldn't have occurred if it weren't for this funding," Supt. Cam Mackid said Wednesday.

"All of the officers that are making those arrests are working on overtime. They're doing work above and beyond what we would normally do day-to-day."

There were also 31 tickets issued for offences such as trespassing, police said, and $8,800 in recovered merchandise.

Brian Scharfstein, who owns a chain of footwear stores, said he and his staff have noticed a change with more officers on foot and visible in the area.

"We are absolutely seeing a reduction in incidents," he said.

Winnipeg saw a series of high-profile crimes at retail outlets in the winter and spring, including a case where three workers at a family-run grocery store were assaulted and injured. A convenience store robbery in May involved a suspect discharging bear spray against a worker and two customers.

Wiebe hinted that some sort of program aimed at reducing retail crime would continue after August.

"We're going to be looking at ways to partner with (police) and continue to build on these good initiatives," Wiebe said.

The province is also planning to host a summit on public safety in collaboration with Indigenous groups, law enforcement and victims' services organizations.

Wednesday's announcement came one day after the province committed money to improve safety and addiction services in downtown Winnipeg, with cash for a new sobering centre and more foot patrols by community safety workers.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 10, 2024.

Steve Lambert, The Canadian Press

push icon
Be the first to read breaking stories. Enable push notifications on your device. Disable anytime.
No thanks