Update: November 9, 2021 

Vancouver – Vancouver Police arrested 32 people and recovered nearly $18,000 in stolen property this past weekend, as officers work to curb a concerning spike in violent thefts throughout the downtown core.

“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 Sergeant Steve Addison. “That’s why the VPD has stepped up shoplifting enforcement.”

Though shoplifting remains vastly under-reported, Vancouver Police have seen a surge in people using violence while stealing from stores. Cases involving weapons – things like knives, needles and bear spray – have shot up 550 per cent since 2019. Commercial robberies have gone up 126 per cent during that same time.

“These victims are often young staff members, store managers, and security guards – people just trying to make a living,” adds Sergeant Addison. “They shouldn’t be subjected to violence for simply doing their jobs.”

Recent incidents of note:

  • A man and woman wearing face-masks entered a clothing store on Robson Street Friday afternoon and stole 47 pairs of pants, with a retail value of $5,783. A staff member immediately called 9-1-1 and safely followed the suspects until police arrived and apprehended them. The man, a 44-year-old chronic shoplifter, was breaching five court orders for previous thefts. A female accomplice was violating a court order that prohibited her from entering the store she had just stolen from. Both were taken to jail, and VPD officers returned the stolen merchandise.
  • A man entered a 24-hour convenience store Sunday afternoon, brandished a weapon, and walked out with a box of donuts. The employee, who was fearful for his safety, called 9-1-1 and VPD officers arrived just after the suspect left. Officers reviewed security video and recognized the suspect, who is a 30-year-old chronic shoplifter with nine theft convictions since 2017. Officers later located the man and arrested him for robbery.
  • A dollar-store security guard tried to stop a shoplifter and was threatened with a butcher knife. The suspect allegedly brandished the weapon and threatened to stab the staff member, who had simply asked the suspect to pay for the merchandise. VPD officers quickly arrested the suspect for uttering threats and assault with a weapon. He was taken to jail.

Vancouver Police have now recommended 71 new criminal charges from the weekend arrests.

“We know that when people report crimes to police we have success in apprehending offenders and holding people accountable,” adds Sergeant Addison. “We continue to encourage anyone who sees a crime to call us right away so we can investigate.”

Between January 1 and October 15, VPD investigated 844 violent shoplifting cases city-wide. That compares to 752 cases during the same period last year, and 130 cases in 2019.

Nearly half of the suspects arrested during the weekend clampdown told VPD they were planning to sell the stolen goods on the illicit market.