Victoria police say they made 109 arrests and recovered more than $29,000 in stolen goods during a recent eight-day crackdown on retail theft in Victoria.
VicPD officers worked with retail staff to target violent and chronic shoplifters between Nov. 27 and Dec. 5 in an operation dubbed Project Lifter, created in response to concerns from local businesses about frequent theft, increasing violence when staff attempt to stop a shoplifter and the impacts on businesses and staff safety.
“Violence and threats are an increasing aspect of retail theft,” Tony Hunt, general manager for London Drugs loss prevention, said in a police news release.
Four individuals were arrested multiple times during the project. Of the 109 people arrested, 21 had outstanding warrants, police said.
Those arrested had 1,103 previous criminal convictions, including 186 for violent offences, VicPD said.
Despite a decline in shoplifting reports, retail theft continues to be a “huge problem” in Victoria, said VicPD Chief Del Manak.
The operation was funded by the Special Investigations and Targeted Enforcement program, a three-year pilot designed to increase police capacity to collaborate on new initiatives and supplement police resources to address violent, repeat offenders.
Officers with VicPD’s outreach section are working with individuals who were arrested to provide information on housing, substance use and other community supports to break the cyclical nature of the crimes, VicPD said.