Chris Fox, CP24.com
Published Saturday, December 29, 2018 3:52 PM EST
Last Updated Saturday, 29 December 2018 4:39 EST
The head of the union representing more than 7,000 non-unionized employees at the LCBO said that he was "very concerned" about the increase in the amount of liquor theft and wanted to sit with Prime Minister Doug Ford to discuss the matter.
OPSE President Warren "Smokey" Thomas made a comment to the CP24 after publishing a story in the Toronto Star detailing the increasing frequency and courage of LCBO theft.
The newspaper said that there were more than 9,000 thefts from LCBO shops which were reported to Toronto police over the past four and a half years, which were the most in one retail chain during that period.
The story also details a number of impudent thefts where shoplifters flocked dozens of bottles while employees and fellow buyers stood up. In one of the incidents described in the story, two people reportedly stole about $ 2,000 of vodka from the east end LCBO store, leaving a largely empty shelf in the process. The newspaper said that certain thefts occurred around three minutes and were witnessed by around 40 people.
Speaking with CP24 on Saturday afternoon, Thomas said that while his union had "tried to engage" the LCBO leadership on this issue, the discussions have not led to any action at this time.
"The LCBO seems to be worried about that but we want them to care enough to take some serious actions and try to find some solutions rather than saying it's a problem and don't intervene," Thomas told CP24. "I call the prime minister and the minister responsible for meeting the LCBO and say what they will do to overcome this."
Employees instructed not to get involved with shoplifters
Earlier this month, police in the 14th Division arrested two people suspected of being involved in shoplifting who were responsible for the theft of more than $ 200,000 in goods from the LCBO store.
Police said the arrests were made after months of investigations conducted in coordination with LCBO investigators.
However, up to 10 other people believed to be involved in the ring remained prominent.
Thomas said that while the safety of employees and customers is "his main concern," there may be several innovative solutions to help overcome what is a real problem at LCBO stores.
"Our leadership tells me that one idea they have is that the LCBO can actually create its own security staff, train them so that they maintain the retail experience provided by LCBO and have it in stores. They can be uniforms or ordinary clothes. At least this is the beginning, "he said.
In a statement given to CP24, the LCBO said that it had taken "appropriate steps" to prevent theft by increasing their "security and investigator expenditure, and CCTV technology."
The LCBO added that while theft is always a concern, the total amount of money lost due to theft is below the retail industry standard.
"Selling alcoholic beverages responsibly is the public trust that the LCBO does very seriously and extends to preventing theft in stores. Store theft is a reality that we have to deal with in one of our LCBO locations throughout the province, and we are always looking for ways to minimize its impact while maintaining safety first, "the statement said.