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Some Halifax businesses limiting who is allowed in stores


Some Halifax retailers on the iconic Spring Garden Road have taken a page from overnight convenience stores in an effort to protect their staff and merchandise: the doors are locked during business hours, and customers have to buzz to get in.

It's a reactionary move to growing theft problems, but the executive director of the Spring Garden Area Business Association says it's not particularly surprising.

"A lot of people who are at risk on the street are not getting the support services they need," said Sue Uteck.

“So, where you're hungry, and you're desperate, and you're tired, you're going to steal, you're going to sleep in a parking garage or in the back of someone's building where you can find shelter," she said, adding the situation is not unique to the area and she's aware of about half a dozen businesses who've started the practice.

Along with occasional confrontations, some retailers have reported thousands of dollars in losses with “grab-and-go” shoplifting, armloads of merchandise running out the door.

Cameron Constantine, a sales associate at Duggers says the move allows the store to more control inside the store.

"Limit the flow of people. Make sure we know who's in here at all times," said Constantine. "To make sure we know that no one is running in quickly, grabbing something quickly and running out, because we've had that happen."

Up the street, the practice is also in effect Foreign Affair.

Police acknowledge incidents of theft and break-and-enters are up significantly since 2020, but they're not prepared to speculate on the reasons.

“We have had several discussions with business districts and other stakeholders recently regarding such matters, and remain engaged in ongoing dialogue to ensure business owners are aware of the proper conduits to report incidents and connect with police officers in their area," said Cst. John MacLeod, Halifax Regional Police Public Information Officer, via email.

"As part of our Patrol strategy, we have also increased our focus on maintaining a visible presence including foot patrols and community officers throughout our community."

"Like many regions across the country, we have seen an increase in retail theft and break and enters particularly since 2020, including in 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," said MacLeod.

But others argue policing has been ineffective at dealing with the district's concerns.

"We had two meetings with the police department," said Kurt Bulger, co-owner of Jennifer's of Nova Scotia. "[After] the first one, I found them so out of touch with what's going on down here, that when the second one came up, I didn't go.”

Long time area resident Joan Shaddock told CTV News she hadn't noticed the extra security measures.

"The only thing that I have noticed is that there's more street people begging in this area, but I think that's economics," said Shaddock.

For now, there's a new reality in the busy shopping district as retailers take-steps to protect their staff and merchandise: very much open for business, but increasingly on-alert in an uncertain economy. Top Stories

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