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Police crackdown on Cape Breton shoplifting proves successful


When Cape Breton police decided to crack down on people stealing from retail stores, it didn't take long to catch quite a few culprits or would-be thieves.

"We directly intercepted twelve thefts, recovered thousands of dollars worth of merchandise," said Cst. Gary Fraser of the Cape Breton Regional Police.

During a 10-day blitz, working mostly with big box stores in the Cape Breton Regional Municipality, officers responded to more than 50 shoplifting-related incidents and charged six people.

The force says shoplifting has been on the rise recently.

While they couldn't say for sure why, they are confident the first round of this operation — which is part of a national program — at the very least provided some deterrent.

"It may have prevented a lot of thefts from happening just with our presence around the stores, in the retail businesses during this operation," Fraser said.

"There's definitely more of a police presence," said Rochelle Simmons, owner of Sawyer & Sunny Boutique, a maternity clothing store in Sydney’s downtown.

Downtown Sydney business owners have long asked for help to stop ongoing problems with theft and store damage.

It led to a beat cop being assigned to keep an eye on downtown businesses.

Now, there's hope that the short-term success of this shoplifting blitz might lead to even more help from the authorities in the long term.

"I think so," Simmons said. “Just the presence, seeing police officers. There's also a 'business watch' program, where they've been providing us with education and tools and answering questions that any of the local business owners have."

Police say the second round of the program will focus on the shoplifting that has been taking place at Cape Breton's largest mall.

“We're going to get all the retailers on an app, and they'll look out for themselves and work closely with police to try and curb the thefts that are happening at the Mayflower Mall,” Cst. Fraser said.

Police said nine people were issued Protection of Property Act notices to prevent them from returning to stores from which they had tried to steal.

They also said targeted enforcement will ramp up heading into the holiday shopping season.

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