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Canada Union wants policy changes, more police in grocery stores to address shoplifting

13:55  18 november  2019
13:55  18 november  2019 Source:   cbc.ca

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Grocery stores are feeling the brunt of shoplifting in Winnipeg, with the union representing employees at Loblaw stores and Red River Jeff Traeger, president of United Food and Commercial Workers Union Local 832, said the union wants to see more police at grocery stores to quell the

Grocery stores are bringing on additional off-duty police officers and private security guards to help manage crowded aisles, long lines and jammed parking lots during the coronavirus outbreak. Some police departments around the country are stationing more cops in grocery stores as well.

a close up of a cage: Grocery stores are feeling the brunt of shoplifting in Winnipeg, with the union representing employees at Loblaw stores and Red River Co-op asking for changes.© Provided by Canadian Broadcasting Corporation Grocery stores are feeling the brunt of shoplifting in Winnipeg, with the union representing employees at Loblaw stores and Red River Co-op asking for changes.

Shoplifting has become such a problem at Winnipeg-area grocery stores that a union representing retail workers is calling for changes to improve safety and reduce theft.

Employees themselves are advised not to intervene in thefts, said Jeff Traeger, president of the United Food and Commercial Workers Local 832, so he thinks more police in stores are needed to solve the problem.evels.

"It's gone too far to be able [to keep] trying to address the root causes to be a good short-term solution … right now that means police in stores," said Traeger,

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"Keeping grocery stores safe for both customers and workers means everyone must wear masks," said Marc Perrone, president of the United Food and Commercial Workers union . "We are urging both elected leaders and grocery chains to make masks mandatory for both customers and workers."

Many retailers are hiring plainclothes and uniformed security, putting valuable products behind locked cabinets and investing in more "prevalent" security systems. Union wants policy changes , more police in grocery stores to address shoplifting .

UFCW also represents the security guards working at the stores, who Traeger describes as "visual deterrents," but have no authority to actually stop anybody engaged in a theft.

The union represents 8,000 employees in Manitoba who work at Red River Co-op and the stores underneath the Loblaw brand including the Real Canadian Superstore, Shoppers Drug Mart, Extra Foods and No Frills.

Unlike liquor marts where people have been swiping from shelves, at grocery stores thieves have been accessing back rooms, said Traeger.

"We now have found shoplifters that walk into the employee-only areas and are stealing from that area and going out a fire exit or a back door," said Traeger. "They're going to the back rooms, taking what they want and running away."

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New shoplifting policy (self.WalgreensStores). submitted 1 year ago by nerdspiceMGR. We’re supposed to wait until they leave the store to notify There's a much higher risk for injury/liability if the perp is confronted by police in - store . I spoke with my local law enforcement officers, and they still

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But, increased police presence may not be possible with Winnipeg Police facing cuts, which could impact how many officers will be on the streets.

Loblaw said they do occasionally use paid duty Winnipeg Police officers, but did not expand if that is something they would do more frequently.

a man wearing glasses and smiling at the camera: Jeff Traeger, president of United Food and Commercial Workers Union Local 832, said the union wants to see more police at grocery stores to quell the surge in shoplifting.© Provided by Canadian Broadcasting Corporation Jeff Traeger, president of United Food and Commercial Workers Union Local 832, said the union wants to see more police at grocery stores to quell the surge in shoplifting.

Police not the answer, says prof

Adding police is not the correct way to approach the problem, according to Bronwyn Dobchuk-Land, associate professor of criminology at the University of Winnipeg

"The idea of putting police in stores sounds good, but extending the idea to the scale it needs to be viable ... it's not surprising to hear this from a union, but it is disappointing," she said,

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In most cases, perpetrators are otherwise honest. They tend not to employ traditional shoplifting techniques, and are unlikely to steal in circumstances Maruna offered a personal example to illustrate the point. “Twice in the past month I have handed back change to a cashier when I was given too

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Dobchuk-Land said the root causes of crime include poverty and homelessness caused by austerity and to suggest public investment in policing doesn't make sense based on evidence.

"We're in the midst of a social crisis, a crisis of inequality, a crisis where people don't have enough to eat, and are so beaten down by being overly policed that they're participating in vengeful acts of theft," she said.

She said even if stores are paying for police, more security won't solve the rpobelm.

"It's not effective and it's likely to lead to increased tensions, increased racial profiling, regarding a problem that is fundamentally about poverty and inequality," said Dobchuk-Land.

a person wearing glasses and smiling at the camera: Brownyn Dobchuk-Land, assistant professor of criminal justice at the University of Winnipeg.© Provided by Canadian Broadcasting Corporation Brownyn Dobchuk-Land, assistant professor of criminal justice at the University of Winnipeg.

"There have been instances in grocery stores with people exhibiting behaviours of someone who's under the influence of drugs or alcohol," said Traeger.

He says the most brazen theft he's told of is of a shoplifter carrying out multiple large-screen televisions in front of staff.

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These shoplifters differ little from a store 's regular clientele. Many of them seem to believe that shoplifting harms no one except an anonymous Shoplifting can consume a large proportion of police resources in processing offenders whom the store has detained. In this regard, the police are

Traeger says he believes there has been little action taken, because the alternative to solve the problem is much more costly.

"At this point, it seems like allowing the theft to happen is cheaper than the solution, which is part of the problem."

Concerns of safety

Concern for the people he represents, who are on the front lines of any possibl conflicts, is top of mind for Traeger. He said cashiers and security guards report being taunted by shoplifters.

"Our focus is really entirely on making sure that the members that we represent get home from work safe every day, and that more importantly, they can work without fear," said Traeger. "They're feeling incredibly unsafe in the workplace."

"Our members, especially cashiers, that work at the front are in harm's way ... they're frankly scared to even walk across the parking lot, scared to go in the back room," he said.

According to Traeger, workers are feeling a sense of frustration, anger and disappointment that the situation has escalated to this level.

In February, he penned a letter to the Loblaw and Red River Co-op suggesting changes including having cashiers work near one another, not isolating employees and improve lighting around the store.

a sign on the side of a building: Loblaw, the the parent company of Superstore, Shoppers Drug Mart, No Frills and Extra Foods said their bottom line is less important than the safety of their customers and employees.© Provided by Canadian Broadcasting Corporation Loblaw, the the parent company of Superstore, Shoppers Drug Mart, No Frills and Extra Foods said their bottom line is less important than the safety of their customers and employees.

Loblaw wrote in an email to CBC they understand the "ongoing concern" of retail theft, but that the potential risk to employees and customers takes precedence over damage to their bottom line.

"We have a number of measures in place to detect and prevent theft and other types of crimes in our stores. These measures include trained security staff, CCTV video technology and sophisticated anti-theft technology," the email reads.

Red River Co-Op did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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