For Suzanne Rose, co-owner of Sidney’s Cameron Rose Gifts, shoplifting is a personal affront.
“They might as well open up my wallet and take money right out of my purse,” she said. “I’m not sure what the mentality is of somebody, who is shoplifting. My assumption is that they don’t think of it as a personal attack. But it is personal, because most small businesses are family-run like ours. We are not rich. We just do this out of love for what we are doing and we like to help people.”
Rose made these comments after a woman, whom she believed to be in her 70s, set off the store alarm while leaving it last week. The woman left behind a sweater, which she had stuffed under her jacket as security footage showed, but walked away with other smaller items.
Sidney / North Saanich RCMP responded to the store, which also posted images of the woman on social media.
“Oops, is that one of our sweaters under your jacket or are you just happy to see us?” read the message in part. “Too bad we have a few pictures and videos of you helping yourself that we are kindly sharing with the police. If you would like to return the items we would love to have them back. In the meantime, maybe someone knows you and can help remind you that you forgot to pay. On a serious note, running a store during COVID is hard enough without people like you stealing from us.”
Rose said she and her co-owner (her daughter) do not enjoy posting this sort of material on social media.
“It is embarrassing to us,” said Rose. “But at the same time, I have always felt that bullies need to be called to task for what they are doing. That is what we are trying do. It’s basically to get the word out there and shame this person. They need to realize that they are not really getting away with it.”
It is not clear yet what if any broader impact COVID-19 has had on shoplifting patterns, but Rose said local retailers had a big shoplifting problem in the summer of 2019.
“They seem to be almost like a network of people. We didn’t have as many this year because I think of COVID. So if anything, it is maybe a little bit less.”
Official statistics show property crimes were down 22 per cent at the end of 2020. Shoplifting as a sub-category was up six per cent in 2020 compared to 2019, with significant drops in the second quarter (39 per cent) and fourth quarter (19 per cent) sandwiching an increase in the third quarter (27 per cent).
“There is always a problem and definitely more in the summer, when people are visiting from out of town and the weather is better,” she said.
Rose praises the police’s response, but would also like to see a more visible police presence and tougher penalties for shoplifting. “There isn’t a lot to deter people from doing it, other than a conscience, which they (shoplifters) clearly do not have.”
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