Shoplifter flashed weapon at cashier and stole box of donuts, allege Vancouver police

A box of donuts is seen in a stock image. (Shutterstock)

The Vancouver Police Department says it’s seeing a surge in the use of violence in shoplifting incidents, and retail employees are being affected.

Over the weekend, the department arrested 32 people and recommended 71 criminal charges in what it’s characterizing as a “shoplifting clampdown,” according to a news statement from Sgt. Steve Addison.

“A man entered a 24-hour convenience store Sunday afternoon, brandished a weapon, and walked out with a box of donuts,” the statement alleges.

A store employee called the police but officers didn’t get there until just after he had left. Police say they reviewed security footage of the incident and say the suspect is known to them.

“(He) is a 30-year-old chronic shoplifter with nine theft convictions since 2017,” said Addison.

Later that day, police found and arrested the man.

Police say shoplifting is “vastly under-reported” and that frontline workers are bearing the brunt of the rise in violent thefts.

“These victims are often young staff members, store managers, and security guards – people just trying to make a living,” Addison said.

“They shouldn’t be subjected to violence for simply doing their jobs.”

Vancouver police say they investigated 844 violent shoplifting cases between Jan. 1 and Oct. 15 of this year. During that same approximately 10-month period in 2020 officers investigated 752 cases of violent shoplifting, while during those same months in 2019, before the pandemic hit Canada, they only investigated 130.

Shoplifting incidents involving weapons such as knives, needles, bear spray, and more, have shot up 550 per cent since 2019, according to police, and commercial robberies have gone up 126 per cent during that same time.

Another recent incident the police are sharing involved a shop security guard.

“A dollar-store security guard tried to stop a shoplifter and was threatened with a butcher knife,” say police.

“The suspect allegedly brandished the weapon and threatened to stab the staff member, who had simply asked the suspect to pay for the merchandise.”

Police say they arrested the man and took him to jail for uttering threats and assault with a weapon.