Ice cream thefts costing grocers thousands weekly in Greater Victoria

Ice cream thefts are costing grocers thousands weekly in Greater Victoria resulting in some retailers with no choice but to keep supplies behind locked doors.

High-end ice cream is flying off Greater Victoria grocery store shelves, but it’s not because people are buying it.

Country Grocer in Saanich has taken the step to lock up its high-end ice cream because it’s the number one target of thieves, according to Craig Cavin, South Island Operations Manager, Country Grocer.

“If you look at the size, it’s easier to steal than a four-litre pail,” Cavins said. “It’s easier to steal than a box of something else that you have to shove in your coat or wherever else you have to hide it.”

At Country Grocer, they stopped keeping track of how much ice cream they were losing.

And it’s a problem region-wide, with potential losses in the thousands of dollars, with meat, and cheese are targets too.

But ice cream is flying out the door, according to Bowen Osoko, spokesperson with the Victoria Police Department.

“We don’t have the exact numbers, because the store owners are telling us the volume is so high that they are unable to really report it,” Osoko said.

That’s echoed by Cavin who says it’s tough keeping up with the thieves.

“It’s hard to keep track of,” Cavin said. “There are certain things you notice. You can catch someone stealing a couple of hundred dollars worth of meat. I think it was two days ago in Esquimalt, someone had five things of Häagen-Dazs in their pants.”

Osoko said the thefts are drug-related.

People who are struggling with addiction, and in particular, methamphetamine, are looking for something to keep them conscious.

“Things with a lot of sugar, and a lot of fat, are really important to them,” Osoko said. “They need the energy to stay awake.”

The Market on Yates is staffed with a security guard at the door to monitor people going in, and out.

But Cavin said just finding a security firm is an issue.

“Security companies are hard to come by these days,” Cavin said. “Also staffing problems for folks like those. We’ve gone through a couple of different people.”

Retailers say they can only do so much to prevent the thefts, and don’t expect the situation to change anytime soon.

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Mary GriffinMary Griffin

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