There has been an increase in the number of brazen thefts reported from liquor stores in downtown Calgary.
“Yes, the rise in thefts from (liquor) stores nowadays is really a concern for me,” said Mark Smith, manager at Ace Liquor Store 12th Avenue, during an interview.
In 2019, the total number of liquor store robberies peaked in Calgary and Edmonton.
To tackle this issue, several prominent liquor stores in downtown Calgary installed security systems, requiring customers to scan ID before entering. This significantly decreased cases from July 2020 to August 2022, as the Calgary police were taking immediate action with the help of such security systems.
But this problem has risen again.
Liquor is often seen as an attractive and substance for thieves as it is easy to pick up bottles and cans, individually or in a pack. These thefts are often related to the low-level organized crime groups.
“They are mostly from low-level organized crime groups in downtown Calgary and across other parts of Alberta,” said Smith.
“They mostly come in a group. I mean, it is frequently observed that four or more persons enter the store like they are individuals with one or two large bags. They fill these bags with the liquor they desire and leave without paying.
“On being asked about money, they show guns or whatever weapon they have. In most of the time, whenever I or my staff tried to interfere, our interference resulted in some injuries or assaults.”
Worker doing inventory: Vishav Kumar, works at Ace liquor on Saturday, Jan. 28, 2023. Kumar has concern due to the rising number of thefts in downtown Calgary. (Photo by Kunal Sehdev/The Press)