Skip to main content

Retail thefts on the rise, becoming more violent: Retail Council of Canada


Shoplifting is becoming a bigger issue in British Columbia, according to the Retail Council of Canada, which reports that on average, retail thefts have increased by about 300 per cent since the beginning of the pandemic.

“I think with just the cost of everything going up now, people are going to their last resort," said Jocelyn Gbarazia, the assistant manager of 8th & Main, a clothing store.

She said people are struggling financially and becoming more desperate for goods.

“People come and they take what they need and it’s hard for businesses because you can’t catch or stop everybody," she said.

Her store has had to amp up its security to reduce the frequency of shoplifting, like many other businesses, including London Drugs.

"In the City of Vancouver, for example, just in that one city, we’re going to spend well over $1-million more than what we spent a couple years ago on this," said Tony Hunt, the general manager for loss prevention for the chain retail company.

He said retailers have lost billions of dollars due to the increase of theft, but more importantly, retailer workers' safety is at risk.

“This is a people issue where we’re scrambling really hard to make sure everybody is safe and you know, a lot of people in our communities don’t feel safe walking down the street now, walking into a store and seeing somebody committing a crime," Hunt said.

Police have long warned the public about violent attacks involving sprays which crooks are increasingly using, including during a robbery at a Gucci store in downtown Vancouver in 2021.

Rui Rodrigues, the executive advisor for loss prevention and risk management for the Retail Council of Canada, said criminals have become more violent and are carrying weapons more frequently.

“We’re also seeing knives, guns being utilized in the commission of retail crime, daylight crime, which is unprecedented," he said.

"We’re hearing about that every week. And years ago, if you go back three or four years, that’s something you might have heard of once every few months," he continued.

He said while people have always shoplifted, retail workers have now become more worried about repeat offenders, prolific and violent criminals, and organized crime.

He and other retailers are calling for tougher punishments and effective measures to bring this growing issue under control. Top Stories

Stay Connected