Downtown merchants would like to see quicker reactions from the VPD

Shopkeepers would like police to have a heavier hand when shoplifters steal


Reported by Palak Klaire

High rent isn’t the only thing that challenges Vancouver shops in the downtown core. Some small business owners say robbery — sometimes with inadequate police response — also contributes to major difficulties.

Two Vancouver business owners said they have struggled to get help from the Vancouver Police Department and are beginning to lose faith in the justice system.

Statistics reported by the VPD from 2018 state that, in Vancouver’s central business district alone, 4710 incidents of theft were reported and the city’s total was 12,270 reported incidents in one year. 

Vancouver police media spokesperson, Constable Steve Addison said they work quite closely with loss prevention officers and take all calls very seriously.

“If someone needs us, if someone calls us, we will attend,” Addison said.

Small business owners speak out

Yet, Downtown Florist shop owner, Ali Tabasson, said he sustains losses from theft anywhere from $100 to $150 daily. Although Tabasson said he has nabbed suspects in the past, when he has needed police, he said often they do not respond.

“We call the VPD to report about the issue, but they don’t answer (the call),” Tabasson said.

Amy’s Jr. Loonie Toonie Town owner, Sui Huynh, said that her business partner and husband have sometimes needed to do the police’s job when shoplifters come in — and it could be dangerous.

“I am upset,” Huynh said.

With some small businesses being pushed out of the downtown core due to high rents, the theft of even small items can be devastating.

“We rely on selling product to pay this high rent… [stolen goods valued] less than $50, they don’t seem to care,” said Huynh, of their dollar store merchandise. “The law seems to be in favour of shoplifting.”

Police: All crimes are serious

Addison said the police don’t measure the seriousness of the crime by the value of the product.

“Anything ranging from high-end products valued at several hundred dollars, to someone stealing a bag of chips and a chocolate bar, we will be there,” Addison said.

On its website, the VPD offer crime prevention tips,  which may discourage shoplifters from targeting the business.


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