Police nab 16 shoplifters at Victoria store during pilot project

VicPD says the calls are coming from a stolen iPhone 5 in the Sitkum Road area.

Victoria police say 16 would-be shoplifters were arrested over a three-day period last week through a new pilot program aimed at supporting downtown businesses.

The alleged shoplifters were arrested between June 28 and June 30 at a single store in the Bay Centre mall.

Out of the 16 arrested, police say five people were already wanted on other warrants, including one person who was wanted on 12 outstanding warrants.

Police say that pilot project will expand to other businesses around the downtown core in the months to come.

"Our downtown businesses are essential to the vibrancy and well-being of our community,” said VicPD Chief Del Manak in a statement Wednesday.

"As we approached phase three of the province’s restart plan, it was important for us to look at ways to support our downtown business community, to ensure the safety of store staff and the public, and to increase the feeling of safety when shopping downtown," he said.

Manak says the pilot project, dubbed "Project Magnet," will be something that police "look to replicate in the near future."

Police are asking that anyone who spots theft or "disorder issues" downtown report them to the Victoria Police Department. Manak adds that many thefts go unreported in the city.

Anyone with information or feedback on the pilot project is asked to call Victoria police at 250-995-7654 or contact Crime Stoppers anonymously at 1-800-222-8477.

"The downtown business community is thankful for this initiative by VicPD," said Jeff Bray, president of the Downtown Victoria Business Association.

"Our local businesses have had a challenging year, and VicPD’s project to combat theft and the associated violence and disorder is a big step in welcoming community members back to shopping downtown," he said.