lcbo shoplifting toronto

The LCBO has a serious shoplifting problem in Toronto

Liquor thieves are becoming increasingly brazen (and busy) in the city of Toronto as word spreads that there isn't much LCBO employees can do to stop them.

An investigation published a few weeks ago by the Toronto Star revealed that 9,000 shoplifting incidents had been confirmed at LCBO stores in the city between January of 2014 and June of 2018—"the most for any one retail chain during that time period."

This week, in a follow-up piece, the newspaper says that liquor store looting has "spiralled to epidemic proportions" in Ontario with police data showing that the LCBO now accounts for almost half of all shoplifting incidents at the city's most frequently hit retail outlets.

And that's only when factoring in the most-recent available numbers.

"The summer of 2018, where the police data ends, saw a rash of a new and ever more brazen heists at several Toronto LCBOs, involving groups of thieves bypassing the display shelves altogether and instead plundering employee-only warehouse areas, where they helped themselves to entire sealed cases of premium liquors," reads The Star's report.

"The repeated raids on LCBO backrooms came as a shock to many anxiety-ridden frontline workers, five of whom told the Star they now fear what they may encounter as they go about what once was the simple, safe task of restocking shelves."

A threefold increase in Toronto LCBO theft cases over just five years seems crazy, especially given the crown corporation's efforts to deter thieves with bottle locks, among other measures.

Store workers, customers and loss-prevention experts, however, say officials aren't doing nearly enough.

Some are also blaming Toronto Police for allowing such a problem to fester and grow.

"The LCBO's 'hands-off' instruction to staff never to intervene with thieves while they are in the building, coupled with the Toronto Police Service’s policy to rarely, if ever, dispatch officers to a low-priority theft scene after the thieves have left has opened a pathway to friction-free larceny," wrote Canadian author Tom Crinstam in response to the Star's first story.

"Govt. must return stores to set up from 70s," suggested the GTA's Browne Law Office on Twitter. "Lock all product behind counter. Or get out of the business and privatize."

Others have been chirping the LCBO directly as news of their costly stealing problem spreads.

As for the provincially-owned liquor company itself: they told the Star they have no comment.

Lead photo by

Lauren O'Neil


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