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Nearly 200 arrests in 'alarming' month-long shoplifting crackdown in downtown Vancouver

In one case, a man with 69 prior convictions and on probation was caught trying to steal a $2,500 laptop
Vancouver Police have been cracking down on shoplifters in the city's downtown core this fall.

During a month-long crackdown on shoplifting in downtown Vancouver, Vancouver police arrested 195 offenders and laid 330 criminal charges.

From early November to early December a dedicated group of officers from the Vancouver Police Department (VPD) worked with retail staff in the city's commercial core, identifying and arresting shoplifters, says Sgt. Steve Addison, who calls the results "alarming."

Over the 30-odd days, 323 incidents were investigated, leading to 195 adults being charged with 330 crimes. Of those incidents 23 involved a weapon; police ended up seizing 35 items that would be considered weapons.

As part of the project $75,052 worth of merchandise was recovered, according to police.

One of the issues the VPD and downtown retailers face is repeat offenders.

“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,” says Sgt. Addison.

In one case a man who had 69 prior convictions and was on probation was caught trying to steal a $2,500 laptop on West Georgia Street on Nov. 7. Less than two weeks later he was re-arrested for trying to steal $60 hair tongs from a department store.

In another incident, a man with 39 prior convictions was caught trying to steal a pair of $30 pillows from a Granville Street store. When police arrested him he had a knife and metal knuckles on him. 

“Sadly, 60 per cent of the people arrested during the month-long campaign said they did not have a permanent place to sleep, and many told us they were planning to sell the stolen goods either online or in the Downtown Eastside to make a few bucks,” says Addison.