Victoria police say they’ve arrested 16 suspected shoplifters in just three days as part of a pilot project aimed at protecting the city’s downtown businesses.
“Project Magnet” was launched Monday, June 28 and carried on until June 30 at one Bay Centre business in the 1100-block of Douglas Street.
Police say five of the 16 people arrested were also wanted on warrants and in one case, one person was the subject of 12 outstanding warrants.
The pilot has given police a model to apply to more businesses in the coming month, VicPD said.
“Our downtown businesses are essential to the vibrancy and wellbeing of our community,” said Police Chief Del Manak.
“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. We know that many thefts at local businesses go un-reported, and many instances lead to violence against loss prevention officers. This is unacceptable. Project Magnet was an important initiative, and something we will look to replicate in the near future.”
The project was welcomed by Downtown Victoria Businesses Association president Jeff Bray.
“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. “This project highlights the experiences of many of our downtown businesses, and we look forward to seeing VicPD around local stores in support of our business community.”
Police ask the public to continue to report theft or disorder issues in the downtown core by calling the report desk at 250-995-7654 or Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477.