Edmonton liquor store looks to ID-scanning technology to combat thefts

Edmonton liquor store looks to ID-scanning technology to combat thefts

EDMONTON — An Edmonton-based retailer of wine, liquor, beer and cannabis is testing an ID-scanning technology used in nightclubs to address a growing number of thefts at its stores.

Last year, the Edmonton Police Service said it responded to about 9,600 thefts from liquor stores — an average of 26 per day.

“We just can’t continue to see everything escalate like it has,” Const. Robin Wilson said at a news conference Monday. “There’s been a dramatic increase in liquor thefts over the last several years, specifically over the last two years.”

Wilson said there’s been a 200 per cent increase from 2018, when there were just over 2,700 thefts.

Alcanna Inc., which runs Liquor Depot, Wine and Beyond and Nova Cannabis, said the thefts are a public safety concern and have a huge cost.

“These robberies are increasingly endangering the safety of liquor store employees and customers and costing millions of dollars, as well as fuelling the drug trade and organized crime gangs,” Joe Cook, Alcanna’s vice-president for loss prevention, said in a news release.

The company has teamed with the Edmonton Police Service to install a PatronScan entry system at one store in northeast Edmonton. It will require customers to scan valid ID, such as a driver’s licence, to gain entry to the store and will expand to other stores in the coming weeks.

“It’s a very minor, minor inconvenience to the public to basically scan your ID in order to ensure your safety and the safety of the workers,” said Wilson.

She said liquor store thieves range from people with alcohol addictions taking a couple of bottles to groups with duffel bags and wheeled suitcases to take larger amounts.

Alberta Justice said there is evidence that criminal gangs are fuelling the increase in thefts in cities such as Edmonton and Calgary.

The department has established a working group to come up with ways to protect Albertans from the public safety threat.

Brad Rutherford, an MLA for Leduc-Beaumont and former police officer who’s leading the working group, said it will take a look at the prosecution rate for the crimes.

“Fifty per cent of the cases are dropped and then two per cent of the cases reach a conviction, so overall it’s one per cent,” he said. “In hearing that number, I find that disappointing.

“To me, we need to be looking at the cases that law enforcement are putting forward. What does the Crown need to be able to be more successful at prosecuting those … to be more successful at deterring this using the justice system?”

Rutherford’s group is also to look at other actions to stop thefts, including enhanced security features for stores, enforcement strategies and other deterrence measures.

Similar measures are being promised in Manitoba, where government-run stores have said they have been “under siege” for more than a year.

One robbery in November turned violent when a thief punched a worker unconscious and left her with a concussion and other injuries.

Manitoba Liquor and Lotteries has beefed up some security measures.

New entrances will require customers to show photo identification before being allowed in. The new doorway has been installed in at least one store and the corporation aims to eventually have similar ones in all its Winnipeg stores.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

The first Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine dose in Canada is prepared at The Michener Institute in Toronto on Monday, Dec. 14, 2020. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn)
Not all long-term care workers have received their vaccines including a Red Deer facility

There continues to be confusion in long-term care and supportive living facilities… Continue reading

Cattle graze winter pasture in the foothills of the Canadian Rockies near Longview, Alta. on Jan. 8, 2004. Concern over the provincial government’s decision to drop a coal policy that has protected the eastern slopes of the Rockies for decades is growing among area communities. At least six cities, towns and municipal districts in southwest Alberta have now expressed concern about the decision and the fact it was made with no consultation. The latest is Longview, where mayor Kathie Wight is drafting a letter to the government opposing the move. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
More southern Alberta communities voice concern over province’s plans to expand coal

Concern over the Alberta government’s decision to drop a coal policy that… Continue reading

Some residents say there is no longer an effective Nordegg fire department to respond to emergencies in the West Country. (Contributed photo).
Some Nordegg residents worry about lack of emergency response in the West Country

The possibility of wildfires or accidents is ‘scary’ says former fire leader

(Advocate file photo).
Six idling vehicles stolen in last 48 hours: Red Deer RCMP

Red Deer RCMP said Wednesday six idling vehicles in the city were… Continue reading

FILE - Pittsburgh Penguins general manager Jim Rutherford has his final meeting of the season with the media at the NHL hockey team's practice facility in Cranberry, Pa., in this Wednesday, May 9, 2018, file photo. Pittsburgh Penguins general manager Jim Rutherford, a Hall of Famer who helped lead to a pair of Stanley Cup titles, resigned abruptly on Wednesday, Jan. 27, 2021. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar, File)
Penguins GM Jim Rutherford, who oversaw Cup wins, resigns

Penguins GM Jim Rutherford, who oversaw Cup wins, resigns

Outfielder George Springer is shown in a screengrab from a virtual news conference he took part in on Wednesday, Jan.27, 2021. Springer says he's excited to be a part of a young, talented team like the Toronto Blue Jays, a club he believes has plenty of potential. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO
Blue Jays introduce outfielder George Springer after signing him to six-year deal

Blue Jays introduce outfielder George Springer after signing him to six-year deal

Bucs fans set to cheer inside, outside Super Bowl stadium

Bucs fans set to cheer inside, outside Super Bowl stadium

Hamilton Tiger Cats quarterback Jeremiah Masoli tries to fend off Saskatchewan Roughrider Zack Evans during first half CFL football game action in Hamilton on Thursday, June 13, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Peter Power
Quarterback Jeremiah Masoli signs extension with Hamilton Tiger-Cats

Quarterback Jeremiah Masoli signs extension with Hamilton Tiger-Cats

Ottawa Senators defenceman Thomas Chabot (72) tries to clear Vancouver Canucks centre Jay Beagle (83) from in front of Senators goaltender Marcus Hogberg (1) during second period NHL action in Vancouver, Wednesday, January 27, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Demko dynamite as Vancouver Canucks beat Ottawa Senators 5-1

Demko dynamite as Vancouver Canucks beat Ottawa Senators 5-1

Milwaukee Bucks forward Giannis Antetokounmpo (34) knocks a rebound away from Toronto Raptors guard Norman Powell (24) during the first half of an NBA basketball game Wednesday, Jan. 27, 2021, in Tampa, Fla. (AP Photo/Chris O'Meara)
Lowry reaches 10,000-point plateau as a Raptor in 115-108 loss to Milwaukee

Lowry reaches 10,000-point plateau as a Raptor in 115-108 loss to Milwaukee

Dallas Stars right wing Alexander Radulov (47) and defenseman John Klingberg (3) celebrates a goal by Joe Pavelski against the Nashville Predators during the third period an NHL hockey game, Sunday, Jan. 24, 2021 in Dallas. (AP Photo/ Richard W. Rodriguez)
‘Sloppy’ hockey is the name of the game early in NHL season

‘Sloppy’ hockey is the name of the game early in NHL season

Ottawa Senators head coach D.J. Smith instructs his team in the third period of an NHL hockey game against the Colorado Avalanche in Denver on February 11, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP, David Zalubowski
With less practice time, NHL morning skates making a comeback in 2021

With less practice time, NHL morning skates making a comeback in 2021

Most Read