Vancouver police have shut down a black market retail operation on the city’s east side, seizing more than $100,000 in stolen clothes and alcohol.
On Nov. 27, police searched a residence near Victoria Drive and East 49th Avenue after getting a tip from an anonymous source that people in the house were selling stolen property. Media relations officer Sgt. Aaron Roed said officers found the stolen property, which included cases of high-end scotch and cognac as well as designer clothes, laid out on tables and racks in multiple rooms.
Close to $130,000 worth of stolen clothes and purses from more than 20 retailers, including Victoria's Secret, lululemon, Aritzia, Gap, Eddie Bauer, Zara and Anthropologie, and alcohol was seized.
“This is a large quantity of stolen items, and we are working with several retailers to return their property,” Roed said. “Unfortunately, retail theft happens all over the city.”
He said the items for sale were stolen from stores both in Vancouver and in other areas of the Lower Mainland.
“There were no buyers inside of the residence when the warrant was executed so we don’t know how they gathered information to come to this house to buy the stolen property,” Roed said.
Two people were arrested and have been released pending further investigation. Roed said police anticipate recommending charges of possession of stolen property over $5,000, as well as theft, to Crown counsel in the coming weeks.
He added that the two people arrested were allegedly the ones doing the stealing and selling of the stolen property, and the operation has no connection to anything that is happening in the Downtown Eastside.
With the holiday shopping season in full swing, Vancouver police has been targeting shoplifters.
Last month, the department completed a three-week project targeting shoplifters in downtown Vancouver that resulted in 25 arrests, and additional special projects targeting thieve and shoplifters are planned for this month.
Roed said the department launched its Christmas Crime Team this week.
“We’re working with the Downtown Vancouver Business Improvement Association as well as the Robson Street Business Association gathering information on retail stores that are being targeted,” he said. “Our officers will be inside these stores watching crime happen and arresting [thieves] as they leave.”
Roed said there have been 2,000 reported cases of shoplifting in Vancouver so far this year, which has surpassed last year’s total of 1,930 reported shoplifting incidents.
The actual number could be much higher, however, as many incidents go unreported.
“Shoplifting, minor thefts… are going underreported. We ask anybody, regarding any investigation, and specifically, today, regarding shoplifting and theft, please call the Vancouver police so we have the true numbers on what is happening in our city.”