The Vancouver Police Department recently unveiled the results of its three-week shoplifting crackdown on chronic and violent shoplifters around the city, and it looks like it was worth the time and effort.
The VPD made over 200 arrests in just three weeks and recovered nearly $80,000 in stolen merchandise.
Project Barcode, the name of the three-week operation, allowed police to minimize the violence that retail employees “often face,” according to VPD.
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Project Barcode was a collaboration between the VPD and management, staff and security at Vancouver business establishments.
Vancouver Police highlighted three particularly notable incidents, which all involve suspects who are now released from custody.
One involved a man who had 37 prior convictions dating back to 2015.
VPD said the man allegedly entered a dollar store near Granville and Dunsmuir streets, where he pulled out a knife to threaten staff and exited with stolen merchandise. Then, he allegedly went to another dollar store one block away and committed another theft.
“The suspect has been charged with possession of a weapon and uttering threats. He has been released from custody.”
In another case, one man walked into a downtown clothing store and threatened to kill staff with a knife before leaving with stolen merchandise. He was arrested a short time later, taken to jail, and released from custody.
The last case the VPD highlighted involved someone who stole $1,100 in store merchandise from a hardware store in East Van. He threatened staff with a machete. He was arrested and charged with robbery but has been released from custody.
Project Barcode highlights
Twenty-eight retailers participated in the project. In total, 280 thefts were investigated.
Police arrested 217 people who had a combined total of 4,695 prior convictions. Police also recommended 278 criminal charges to Crown counsel.
Among those arrested, 47 were repeat offenders. In total, $79,679 in stolen merchandise was recovered and returned to store shelves. Police were also able to seize 24 weapons.
Tony Hunt, general manager for London Drugs Loss Prevention, commented on the operation.
“We need this work to continue. We also need the support from government, police, and community organizations so front-line retail workers don’t have to face violence and abuse.”