Date: Monday, April 3, 2023
Victoria, BC – On February 23, officers from VicPD’s General Investigation Section (GIS) recovered approximately $94,000 in stolen merchandise, $19,000 in Canadian currency and drugs after executing search warrants at two separate Victoria residences.
In early January, officers initiated an investigation into drug trafficking in the Victoria area. During the course of this investigation, they uncovered a sophisticated retail theft operation involving a large amount of stolen property from downtown retailers and other Victoria businesses. Officers determined that individuals would contact a centralized phone number to arrange to “sell” stolen retail items in exchange for drugs. A “dispatcher” would appraise the items over the phone, usually at a fraction of their original retail value, and provide a value for the items in drugs. A driver would then meet the seller who would accept the stolen property in exchange for drugs. Individuals involved in the operation would often make requests or provide lists of desired items to property crime offenders. The investigation also determined that several downtown businesses were targeted for specific retail merchandise.
On February 23, GIS investigators executed two search warrants at residences in the 700-block of Courtney Street and the 600-block of Speed Street. During these searches, investigators located approximately $94,000 in new retail merchandise including clothing and athletic wear, wallets, sunglasses, electronics, power tools, children’s toys and other personal accessories. A security tag remover and money counter were also located in one of the residences along with approximately 2.5 kilograms of drugs including cocaine and fentanyl and approximately $19,000 in Canadian currency. This file remains under investigation.
In late 2022 and early 2023, VicPD officers conducted targeted retail theft projects in response to concerns from business owners and staff about brazen thefts and safety concerns related to shoplifting. During one of these projects, officers recovered $11,000 in stolen merchandise, arresting one individual with $3,200 worth of stolen merchandise. Another project saw 17 arrests and over $5,000 in recovered stolen property. Some of the suspects arrested were already on court ordered conditions related to shoplifting charges and other individuals had outstanding arrest warrants for theft.
VicPD recognizes the impact that retail theft has on the operation of businesses and retail outlets in Victoria and Esquimalt. We encourage retail outlets to continue to report retail theft and shoplifting either by calling the VicPD Report Desk at (250) 995-7654 extension 1 or through our online reporting system at Report an Incident Online – VicPD.ca.
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