Covid, economic slowdown driving an increase in theft, store manager says

Lockdown shopping: A customer at the Circle K in Forest Lawn in Calgary on Sept. 26. (Photo by Baljeet Singh/ SAIT)

Theft in Calgary has been on the rise day-by-day, due to the COVID 19 pandemic.

Business owners report a dramatic increase in theft and robbery due to COVID-19 and the laws requiring face-coverings in public places in the city aren’t  helping.

“I think a lot of people are unemployed and they are stealing stuff, and many people are going into drugs. Drugs are the main problem,” the assistant manager at the Forest Lawn Circle K, Paras Sharma, said of the situation at his store.

“I see many people doing meth, or cocaine outside my store and then they try to steal my food and everything from inside the store, though I provide them with free food,” Sharma said.

“It is a good thing the government has made wearing face masks is compulsory as it reduces the effect of giving the virus to the other person,” he said.

“But it is also a threat to our people. For example, one of our friends works at night shift, and he was all alone but people walk in with masks and many other things, and hats, so it is dangerous as well as it is good.

“We are scared that the next customer who walks  in may be a thief, but he could be a good person so we cannot judge,” Sharma added.

Store staff agree that due to the increase in unemployment during this pandemic, conditions are getting worse.

“The stealing is increasing day-by-day which is not good for the store. The main reason is the mask. Now, customers can cover their face and it is very hard to identify them.

“It is an advantage for them to easily steal things from the store. According to the organization’s rules, we can’t do anything,” says Dishant Setiya, an employee at Sharma’s store.

“For the night shift, it’s not safe to work at night. But our market manager has said that we should lock the door, and if we know the person, he can enter. If we are suspicious about the person, we cannot allow him to get into the store.

“Somehow it is safe also and not safe,” said Sharma.

Night hours were okay before, but more recently, some problems have come up,  he said.


On duty: Paras Sharma, the assistant manager of the Circle K, checks store shelves on Sept. 25. (Photo by Baljeet Singh/SAIT)