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New West police partnering with local businesses to arrests shoplifters

New Westminster Police Department is teaming up with the Uptown and Downtown business associations to tackle shoplifting – including threats of injury to staff.
nwpd-crimereductionunit
Members of the NWPD's Crime Reduction Unit are teaming up with business associations to deter shoplifting.

The New Westminster Police Department is teaming up with local business improvement associations to arrest shoplifters.

In late 2023, the police department’s Crime Reduction, Street Crime and Gang Suppression units worked with loss prevention staff in downtown businesses to identify and arrest violent and chronic shoplifters. During the three-day Project Barcode campaign, which targeted violent and chronic shoplifters, police arrested 18 people.

Based on successful projects in the Downtown neighbourhood, the police department is expanding its efforts.

In a news release, the police department announced its Crime Reduction Unit has expanded its partnership to include both the Downtown and Uptown business improvement associations.

“This proactive effort addresses the serious issue of shoplifting, including the threat of injury to staff and the general public and financial loss incurred by retail outlets within the city,” said the news release. “The aim is to raise awareness, deter potential offenders, and promote a safe and secure shopping environment.”

Bart Slotman of the Uptown Business Association said shoplifting is a real issue being faced by retailers. 

“The losses incurred undermine business viability.  We have also seen threats directed at store owners and employees, which obviously is very concerning,” he said. “We commend the New Westminster Police Department for the efforts taking in this initiative, and look forward to working with the department in promoting a safe shopping environment.”

The Record has contacted the Downtown BIA for comment.

“We are out there,” said NWPD Sgt. Sean Schultz, a sergeant in the NWPD’s Crime Reduction Unit. “I won’t say when and I won’t say where, but if you are going to shoplift, you can expect to meet the Crime Reduction Unit.”

The New Westminster Police Department believes shoplifting and violent thefts from businesses is an under-reported crime. Officers are encouraging staff to report these crimes to police; they can file a police report by calling 604-525-5411 and they can call 911 if they witness a theft in progress.

In some instances, online reporting may be a quick and convenient way to report instances of shoplifting, said the NWPD news release.

“Business owners and staff have had enough,” said NWPD spokesperson Sgt. Andrew Leaver in a news release. “Employees and customers should not have to face violence when they are in retail environments.”

This project is funded in large part by the Special Investigations and Targeted Enforcement Program, with funding from the provincial government under the Safer Communities Action Plan.

Retailers who require safety and crime prevention information, or would like to inquire about collaborating with the New Westminster Police Department Crime Reduction Unit, can contact Schultz at sschultz@nwpolice.org.