Halifax business owner uses social media to expose alleged thief
Stores such as Twiggz use social media to advertise. But last week, the kids’ apparel and shoe store used social media to out an alleged thief.
“That is something new for us,” said Derick Honig, one of three co-owners of Twiggz, which is based in both Mic Mac Mall and the Halifax Shopping Centre.
“It’s really one of the few remaining things we could do to address the situation because there’s not a lot of other recourse," he said.
Shoplifting isn’t new. But at Twiggz and elsewhere, store owners have noticed an uptick.
“It’s increased, but not dramatically,” Honig said. “We’re always prepared for it.”
Honig said it’s a lot of work to get police involved and prosecuting shoplifters is a long and tiresome affair, one that’s not particularly successful. He added that relying on insurance isn’t realistic because it would mean a huge deductible along with a separate police report for every stolen item.
“Other things might involve something like stepping up mall security but that’s not really in our purview to deal with it. It would be great if mall security had more power,” Honig said.
Last week, the business took a new tactic and posted three photos on social media of a woman who allegedly walked out of the store with hundreds of dollars worth of products.
Honig noted his team considered it may not be the best approach but the response has been overwhelmingly supportive.
“But it has gained a lot of traction,” Honig said. “And will we do it again? For sure, absolutely we’ll do it again.”
Data from Statistics Canada shows a jump in retail theft between 2020 to 2021, including in Halifax.
“We’re not talking about product that people steal because they’re hungry,” said Jim Cormier, the Atlantic Director of the Retail Council of Canada.
Cormier notes many thefts are organized and brazen. He gave the example of how earlier this month RCMP said two women and a man walked into a drug store in Cole Harbour and allegedly walked out with more than $2,000 worth of perfume. Police haven't made an arrest.
“We’re talking about people who go into the grocery store with a shopping cart, fill it up with hundreds of dollars worth of meats and walk right out the door,” said Cormier. “We’re talking about people that go into high-end clothing retailers and scoop up maybe a thousand dollars worth of cashmere sweaters and walk out the door.”
Jennifer’s of Nova Scotia, a long-time anchor on Spring Garden Road, has also experienced an increase in shoplifting. In his more than 40 years with the business, its co-owner Kurt Bugler knows there’s no one profile behind it.
“It’s young, it’s old, it’s poor, it’s rich, it’s male, it’s female. It’s the whole gambit of society,” Bugler said.
Store owners point out how thefts can hit a business’ bottom line and also be hard on staff.
“The margins are thin and we’re trying to take care of our staff and this makes it more difficult,” said Honig.
In a statement to CTV News, Halifax Regional Police spokesperson Cst. John Macleod said many regions across the country have seen an increase in retail theft and break and enters, particularly since 2020. He said this includes Halifax.
“We do not know all the reasons driving this increase but we are aware and working closely with community partners to work on solutions,” Cst. Macleod said.
Macleod said police have had several discussions with business districts and others on the topic.
“As part of our patrol strategy, we have also increased our focus on maintaining a visible presence, including foot patrols and Community Response Officers throughout our community,” he said.
Lisa Flux, the new general manager at Mic Mac Mall, said she’s investigating.
She believes it’s an industry-wide conversation and the issue is multi-layered.
“There has been an uptick in the industry across the board,” Flux said. “I wouldn’t say it’s a gross uptick.”
Flux added lack of staffing is also an issue.
“It’s a COVID-19 recovery situation, a staffing situation and we’re definitely all open to creating a better space for both shoppers and retailers,” she said.
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