Justice Minister Cliff Cullen is hoping to curb retail theft with the help of a team of experts.

Twelve people are being appointed to a new committee focussing on retail crime. 

“In the past three years, retailers have seen retail thefts increase by over 125 per cent, and violent crime targeted at businesses and employees is also on the rise,” Cullen says. “The Manitoba government is pleased to partner with the private sector to create this new task force, which will work collaboratively to address these issues and support retail communities throughout the province.”  

The Retail Crime Task Force will include people from Manitoba Justice, Winnipeg Police Service (WPS), RCMP, national, local and independent retailers, private security firms, Manitoba Liquor and Lotteries, Commissionaires Manitoba and the Retail Council of Canada, with additional support provided by MNP, a chartered accountancy and business advisory firm.

The Retail Crime Task Force includes:
•    John Graham, director, government relations (Prairie region), Retail Council of Canada (co-chair);
•    Shannon Martin, MLA, McPhillips (co-chair);
•    Scott Kolody, associate deputy minister, Manitoba Justice;
•    Michele Jules, executive director, Manitoba Prosecutions Service;
•    Chief Supt. Rob Hill, RCMP;
•    Deputy Chief Jeff Szyszkowski, Winnipeg Police Service;
•    Bryan Payne, Commissionaires Manitoba;
•    Damien Smith, district loss prevention officer, Rexall (national retailer);
•    Brian Scharfstein, Canadian Footwear (small independent retailer);
•    Shawn McGurk, director, corporate security and surveillance, Manitoba Liquor and Lotteries;
•    Scott Young, vice-president, Western Canada, Garda World (private security); and
•    Dr. Rick Linden, professor, sociology and criminology, University of Manitoba (data expert/research advisor).

Cullen says the task force stems from a recommendation of the Manitoba Retail Crime Round Table. The round table took place in January with more than 90 participants from 68 private- and public-sector organizations.

“Manitoba is leading the way in its collaborative response to crime that is undermining the safety and viability of retailer stores across this province,” John Graham, director of government relations (Prairie region), Retail Council of Canada says. “We are appreciative of this community response to addressing this issue and enthusiastically anticipating the impact the efforts of this task force will have on creating safer communities and stores.”

Cullen says Manitoba Justice will need to play a key role in th task force. He says they will need to seek out innovative ideas to address possible prevention, suppression and intervention strategies, as well as identify potential loss prevention strategies to find the root causes of retail theft.

“Our partnership with the Manitoba government is allowing us to better identify and apprehend chronic offenders involved in retail theft,” Insp. Shawn Pike, WPS says. “This targeted approach benefits city businesses and citizens alike, and supports safer communities for everyone.”

Cullen notes that the WS and Manitoba Prosecutions and Manitoba Probation Services are making significant efforts to stop retail theft including creating Project Stop Lifting. The project is a partnership between the Winnipeg Police Service and Manitoba Justice targetting chronic theft offenders.