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Big box grocery stores in Penticton being hit hard by food theft

‘Shoplifting food has a huge impact on our community’ — RCMP
Penticton Superstore has seen the most shoplifting by far in 2022. (Google)

Not likely a surprise to anyone, the most common thing being shoplifted in Penticton is food items, said RCMP Supt. Brian Hunter.

In his year-end report to city council, Hunter said with inflation bringing the price of food items up, so has the prevalence to steal them.

“Shoplifting food has a huge impact on our community and hundreds of thousands of dollars are lost to it,” Hunter said.

The location with the most shoplifting was by far the Superstore, followed by Walmart, Hunter said.

“Food has become a high-priced item,” he said.

Meats and cheeses are common items shoplifted. It isn’t uncommon to hear stories of people filling up shopping carts and walking out the door without paying.

According to RCMP crime stats, shoplifting rose to 472 cases last year compared to 394 in 2021.

Shoplifting can and does involve violence.

In November 2022, a loss prevention officer at Walmart was assaulted and almost stabbed when trying to check a person for shoplifting. Police released a photo of the suspect but it isn’t known if he was arrested.

READ MORE: Loss prevention officer threatened to be stabbed with scissors

Coun. Helena Konanz said the community has become ‘numb’ to the sight of ongoing thefts at grocery stores.

The main issue at hand is being able to hold chronic prolific offenders accountable, which is what they are working with Crown counsel to achieve, said Hunter.

“If we can ID them and hold them to account in the court system we could have some results,” he added.

The CEOs of Canada’s largest grocery store chains go before a parliamentary committee today, March 8 to answer questions about the rapid rise in food prices.

Food inflation has been especially crushing for lower-income Canadians, with grocery prices in January up 11.4 per cent compared to a year ago. That is nearly double the inflation rate.

READ MORE: Grocery store CEOs will face questions on food prices at Commons committee today

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Monique Tamminga

About the Author: Monique Tamminga

Monique brings 20 years of award-winning journalism experience to the role of editor at the Penticton Western News. Of those years, 17 were spent working as a senior reporter and acting editor with the Langley Advance Times.
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