Violent robberies spark concern for Winnipeg retailers, security companies
Published Tuesday, April 9, 2019 11:06AM CST
Last Updated Tuesday, April 9, 2019 6:24PM CST
Two recent robberies that turned violent have retailers and security companies speaking out about an escalating level of danger facing store employees and security guards.
Winnipeg police arrested a man Friday night following separate incidents – the first at the Marlborough Hotel, the second at a Shoppers Drug Mart on Sherbrook Street.
Officers said a store employee required medical attention in hospital after being slashed in the wrist at Shoppers Drug Mart, while a security guard at the Marlborough Hotel was stabbed in the hand, but did not require immediate medical attention.
Marlborough Hotel owner Manfred Boehm witnessed the incident.
“Very concerning,” said Boehm. “I’ve never seen this level of behaviour downtown before. I’ve been here for 18 years. We’ve had different incidents for sure, but never to that aggression.”
He said a worker in the gift shop called a hotel security guard for assistance about a shoplifter.
“Security then confronted the individual with items, the individual wanted to leave,” said Boehm. “Security then just grabbed his arm and that’s when he had produced a knife.
“He nicked our security individual in the hand and then he proceeded to run out the door and down Portage Ave.”
Toro Security owner Colin Harris declined to speak to any specific incidents.
He said security guards have always dealt with violence but Harris said it now seems to be more prevalent.
“It’s just a little more violent,” said Harris. “With more training and better training and having guards informed to follow the guidelines and stay in our lane as security guards and not try and be police and enforce what the police do – that’s the best approach that we can have.”
Harris said for the past year guards working at Toro have been encouraged to take mental health first aid training to help them recognize and respond to situations involving people in crisis.
Food Fare owner Munther Zeid said he has a zero-tolerance approach when it comes to shoplifting.
He said his employees are told to go in groups if confronting suspected shoplifters.
“Our policy is we don’t confront one-on-one, we’re confronting with two, three people at a time,” said Zeid. “And we’re confronting the person armed, not with a gun but we have bats, we have sticks, we have batons, whatever we need to make ourselves safe.
“Shoplifters beware: you come to Food Fare, you’re not walking out happy.”
Justin Seth Shorting, 26, has been charged with two counts of theft under $5000, two counts of possession with a weapon and two counts of assault with a weapon in connection with Friday’s incidents.