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Shoplifting in Montreal and across the country on the rise

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Thefts are on the rise in Montreal with new data from the police (SPVM) showing that it's been a growing problem for the past five years.

There has been a big jump in shoplifting and pickpocketing, and, according to Quebec's retail council, it's not just that people are stealing more, but also that what they are taking is more expensive.

"At least 50 per cent, it went up," said Marche Esposito assistant manager Norman Shannon.

Shannon's NDG grocery store requires customers to leave their bags at the front of the store so shoppers don't slip anything in, but, often the thefts are grab and dashes.

"And a lot of times when it's wine, they come through three times to try to get," said Shannon. "Then they just come in, and they go out fast. The meat too."

According to SPVM data, there were around 7,200 thefts in 2022 with that number jumping to 7,900 last year (up around 9 per cent).

According to Statistics Canada, the shoplifting rate increased 24 per cent between 2021 and 2022.

"Sometimes they come even twice in a day if you don't catch them," said Shannon.

The Retail Council of Quebec (CQCD) said that almost $2 billion worth of goods are shoplifted every year, and more often, thieves are targeting high-priced items like computers and jewelry.

"The number of shoplifting incidents, with a market value of more than $5,000 -- $5,000 as described by owner -- increased," said CQCD general manager Damien Siles.

Montreal police said inflation has played a role.

"The rise in the cost of living and financial uncertainty may have encouraged some people to commit thefts," the SPVM said.

The CQCD agrees, noting that mortgage and cost of living rates are high.

"Right now, everything, it's expensive," said Siles.

The retail council said that on top of the cost of goods, robbers can be aggressive, which can leave employees shaken or hurt; situations businesses often don't have the tools to help with.

"It's pretty dangerous you never know who they are, who you're dealing with," said Shannon.

It's a daily risk that retailers say is growing. 

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