No winners in local shoplifting competition

Present actions could restrict opportunities later

The Sooke Region Chamber of Commerce issued an alert on their Facebook page about a local shoplifting ring in our town.

“It has been brought to our attention that there has been a ‘shoplifting ring’ formed in Sooke by students from a local school,” reads their alert. “Apparently, a group of students are having a contest with their peers to see who can shoplift the most merchandise in Sooke then brag about it on Facebook.”

One local business that was recently hit was People’s Drug Mart. Owner Ron Kumar told the Sooke News Mirror that he lost at least $400 in the past week.

Kumar has several cameras installed in his store. Using social media to his advantage, he was able to identify several of the shoplifters. He anticipates identifying others.

“I caught a few,” said Kumar, “ I intend to recover every cent of it.”

Kumar stressed that this is a great community. Sooke is “generally a supportive community,” he said. “We have such a great community that we love to support.” And, he noted, it’s not all youth. “It’s just a handful of kids doing it.” The kids, who are generally aged between 12 and 14, were very good at their distraction techniques, he noted. But they weren’t as good as his cameras.

The dumb thing is that these kids are doing more harm to themselves. In a few years, points out Kumar, they will be looking for jobs in the community. It’s a small town, and using social networking tools like Facebook and comparing them with the images returned from his in-store cameras, identification of these youth has been relatively easy. This small stupid little stint will cost them future employment opportunities.

Kumar’s final words of advice?

“It’s not worth it. It’s absolutely not worth it.”

Sooke is a great community, Kumar stressed, and the businesses in it offer a lot of support, sponsoring sports and providing scholarships. Perhaps the kids should engage in a garbage-collecting competition, something more productive and giving the community, he said.

“Be vigilant,” sums up the Chamber’s alert, “and call the RCMP if targeted.”

The RCMP’s non-emergency number is 250-642-5241. To report a crime anonymously call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS (8477),

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