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32 people arrested across Vancouver during busy weekend for police

Police are contending with an uptick in robberies involving weapons, which have spiked by 550 per cent in two years
VancouverPoliceStation
Vancouver Police made 32 arrests during the first weekend of November 2021 as part of a crackdown on thefts. File photo.

As part of a crackdown on violent thefts 32 people were arrested over four days this weekend.

Between Thursday (Nov. 4) and Sunday (Nov. 7) Vancouver police focused on a clampdown of shoplifting in the downtown core, resulting in $18,000 in stolen property recovered. Sgt. Steve Addison says the clampdown is in response to a concerning spike in violent thefts, where weapons or physical force are being used to commit the theft.

"Weapons that we're commonly seeing are things like needles, knives, bear spray, physical force, or other blunt objects that are used to intimidate staff members in the stores," he said during a press conference.

Since 2019 these types of crimes have jumped by 550 per cent. Over the same period commercial robbery is up 126 per cent. So far in 2021 there have been more than 850 violent shoplifting incidents. Over the same period in 2019 there were 130 cases.

One of the weekend thefts fit the profile of what Addison described; in the incident a security guard at a dollar store tried to stop a shoplifter and was subsequently threatened with a butcher knife. The suspect allegedly threatened to stab the guard after the guard asked the suspect to pay for merchandise the suspect had. Police were able to arrest the suspect.

“Store owners and their staff are losing thousands of dollars every day to shoplifters. After a number of violent encounters, many are telling us they don’t feel safe coming to work,” says Addison. “That’s why the VPD has stepped up shoplifting enforcement.”

The recent clampdown follows Project Arrow, which ran in January and saw police arrest 137 different shoplifters.

"Shoplifting is a crime that is vastly underreported, and we're hearing that personally from shopkeepers and staff that we're speaking to," Addison said.

Calling police immediately when there's a crime in progress greatly increases the chance of police catching the suspect, he added. In discussion with suspects police have found the vast majority of what's stolen is intended to be resold.

Along with the clampdown police are helping stores "harden" their stores against theft, Addison noted.

"This is a battle that we're always going to be waging," Addison said.