Date: Wednesday, July 7, 2021

File: 21-23529

Victoria, BC – “Project Magnet”, a VicPD pilot initiative aimed at supporting Victoria’s downtown business community by combatting theft, took place over three days last week and resulted in 16 arrests.

“Project Magnet” ran from Monday, June 28th, until Wednesday, June 30th, with the goal of supporting Victoria’s downtown business community by targeting shoplifters at one retail location. The project was staffed by officers from VicPD’s Community Services Division and the Patrol Division.

The project is a part of ongoing efforts to support downtown Victoria businesses after the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, and to combat an increasing level of violence associated with thefts from retailers. Officers worked closely with local loss prevention officers in a coordinated approach that targeted shoplifters at one retail business within a mall in the 1100-block of Douglas Street.  The success of the pilot project at one retail location provided officers with a model to apply to the wider business community in the coming months.

Officers arrested 16 people for theft over the three days that “Project Magnet” was conducted. Five of those persons arrested were also wanted on warrants. One person arrested was the subject of 12 outstanding warrants.

“The downtown business community is thankful for this initiative by VicPD,” said Jeff Bray, President of the Downtown Victoria Business Association. “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. 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.”

“Our downtown businesses are essential to the vibrancy and wellbeing of our community,” said Chief Del Manak of the Victoria Police Department. “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.”

In addition to “Project Magnet,” officers are asking the public to report theft or disorder issues in an effort to ensure the safety and wellbeing of all those who use and access our downtown core.

If you have information you would like to share regarding “Project Magnet”, please call our Report Desk and (250) 995-7654, extension 1. To report what you know anonymously, please call Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477.