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Suspected shoplifter busted

A man believed to have been stealing from Costco stores across the country has finally been arrested following an attempted theft at the wholesaler’s Kelowna location.

Maxime Belanger is currently in custody and facing one count of theft under $5,000 after he was arrested June 10. But a Costco employee says the same man is suspected of stealing from seven other store locations over the past month.

That employee, who does not want to be named because he is not authorized to speak about the situation, says Costco loss prevention officers have been tracking Belanger for some time.

“Basically what was happening, is he was taking certain items – box stuffing – and then selling them on Cragslist as he moved across the country. We had actually been in contact with him to buy some of the things in order to get his location.”

He says local members knew what the man looked like and what type of vehicle he was driving through their sophisticated business model that tracks memberships and purchases. He says Belanger even used his own Costco card to enter the store and make legal purchases, but also smuggled other items through the checkout.

“From the first time he entered Kelowna, we knew exactly what was going to happen," the employee says.

“He walked through, we let him do his thing. We let him go through the till and apprehended him as he left the building.”

That’s when he says the suspect fled to a waiting vehicle and drove away, nearly running over a loss prevention officer in the process.

A female passenger was also seen inside the vehicle.

“People do try and get out of here with stuff and we’re actually very good at stopping it. And people think of us as a warehouse, but we’re pretty sophisticated when it comes to this stuff."

The employee says they have made a connection between the robbery dates and items listed on Craigslist, which they believe shows that Belanger was funding a road trip across Canada.

“If he stopped at one or two, we may never have caught him."

This latest incident at the Kelowna Costco location is not related in any way to a pepper spray assault that took place last month.

It is unknown at this time if Belanger is facing theft charges in other provinces. He is scheduled to make a court appearance in Kelowna on Thursday.

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