Headed to liquor store? You may have to scan your ID before you enter

EDMONTON – The Alberta government announced today that an Edmonton liquor store is piloting a program that forces customers to scan their ID before entering the liquor store.

The security program scans the customer’s ID before they are allowed to enter the liquor store. Ace Liquor store at 11708 34th St. in northeast Edmonton will pilot the project.

The province established a working group to fight liquor store robberies. Doug Schweitzer, Minister of Justice and Solicitor General, has appointed Brad Rutherford, MLA for Leduc-Beaumont, to chair a working group, which will examine the recent spike in crimes targeting liquor stores. 

“Criminals and gangs are preying on hard-working, law-abiding Albertans and business owners,” said Doug Schweitzer, Minister of Justice and Solicitor General.”Our government will work with our partners in law enforcement and in the industry to deter liquor store thefts through better prevention and ensuring appropriate consequences for the perpetrators.”

Brad Rutherford, MLA for Leduc-Beaumont, and chair, Liquor Store Theft Working Group said this is an important crime and safety issue that requires thoughtful action.

“Our partners bring a considerable amount of knowledge and expertise to the discussion and I’m looking forward to hearing their ideas. Together, we can make a difference.”

Police in Edmonton alone responded to more than 9,500 liquor store thefts in 2019 – an average of 26 a day – triple the 3,273 in 2018.

Edmonton Police posted a video of an assault that took place at west Edmonton liquor store in December 2019.

In the clip, captured on Dec. 6, 2019, at a liquor store in the area of 170 Street and 100  Avenue, a female employee reportedly asks a male patron for identification. The man then unexpectedly assaults the employee before fleeing the store. He was last seen boarding an ETS bus in the area. Officers continue to search for the suspect in this incident.

Last year in Edmonton, police responded to 9,594 liquor store thefts and robberies, an increase of close to 200% over the 2018 numbers of 3,306. On average, EPS officers responded to 26 liquor store theft and robbery calls each day in 2019.

In addition to costing retailers millions of dollars in financial losses and placing a significant strain on police resources, the current trend poses a continued risk of violence toward workers and bystanders, said the Alberta government media release.

There is evidence that criminal gangs are fuelling a dramatic increase in liquor store thefts in cities like Edmonton and Calgary, using stolen merchandise as a form of street currency to pay for illegal goods and activities. Many thefts and robberies appear to be planned and coordinated events carried out by groups that enter a store and steal a large quantity of liquor in only a few minutes. There have also been several cases of violence toward liquor store employees.

James Burns, CEO of Alcanna, Minister Doug Schweitzer, MLA Brad Rutherford, and Cst. Robyn Wilson, Edmonton Police Service, announced action to fight robberies and thefts targeting liquor stores. (Govt. of Alberta photo)

The group will weigh a broad range of actions to deter liquor store thefts, including security features for stores, enforcement strategies, legal measures and deterrence measures, as well as steps taken in other jurisdictions.

Updated Jan. 20, 4:30 p.m.

george@albertapressleader.ca

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