Petty theft from grocery stores is a regular occurrence, says the manager of Western Foods in Langford, where employees last week chased and caught a candy thief with the help of Mayor Stew Young. Bill Oxford/iStock photo

EDITORIAL: Retail theft not a victimless crime

Chasing down of Langford store thief prompts discussion of theft in general

In our fast-paced world of social media, the appeal of a Wild West-like story where the mayor of Langford helps corral an alleged petty thief is immediate and strong.

As we found out this week by following up the story of two grocery store employees chasing down the suspect, with Stew Young’s help, retail theft is not a victimless crime, even when the thief happens to get away with the goods.

Retail merchants can be hit hard by theft – known in accounting terms as “shrinkage.” They factor in a certain amount of loss every month and year to their financial statements, but that can force them to raise prices to cover the losses. For smaller merchants, that doesn’t help them remain competitive in the kind of busy marketplace that we enjoy on the West Shore.

But what of the thieves? As West Shore RCMP Const. Alex Berubé pointed out, petty criminals range from repeat offenders to single parents struggling to put enough food on the table for their children. While we recognize that other issues and life circumstances might convince them that stealing is defensible, not every theft should be treated equally.

One caught stealing for a first time, for example, should be cut a certain amount of slack, with restorative justice options strongly considered as opposed to a criminal record. On the other hand, someone with a history of theft needs a stronger message sent, such as jail time, to demonstrate that such actions are not acceptable in civil society.

It almost seems that people who steal food items, as opposed to those who steal big-ticket items such as jewelry, electronics or even cars – often as a way to supply money to support a drug or other substance addiction habit – gain more sympathy from the public. Even for those people it may be that stealing itself has become a habit, one that needs a crisis point, such as getting caught, to prompt a change in behaviour.

It behooves all of us to speak up when we observe someone stealing. Doing so not only helps the merchant, it can provide a turning point in the would-be thief’s life that sets them on a right road.

Just Posted

Quick-thinking residents help contain fire in Colwood

Department says fire would have been worse if not for actions of tenant and neighbour

Unlike other districts, SD62 not cutting back on carpet cleaning

Sooke School District adds more custodians because of portables

New apartment buildings move forward in Langford

Belmont Place Apartments on Jacklin Road will feature 222 units when finished

High winds cancel slew of BC Ferries sailings

Travel to and from Victoria and Vancouver as well as Northern Gulf Islands affected

View Royal’s byelection results are in

The winner is Damian Kowalewich

VIDEO: Rare comic showing Superman’s 1st appearance to be auctioned

The 1938 comic features Superman hoisting a car over his head

Naked man arrested in Nanaimo, provided with pants

Suspect arrested for causing disturbance Nov. 13 near Bowen and Northfield roads

‘An officer and a gentleman’: Const. John Davidson is laid to rest

Thousands attend memorial service for slain Abbotsford Police officer

VIDEO: Coquihalla closed both directions near Merritt

Detours are available via Hwy. 8 and Hwy. 1

VIDEO: The Last Jedi is going to be the longest ‘Star Wars’ movie yet

Newest movie in the franchise will beat Star Wars: Episode II - Attack of the Clones

REPLAY: B.C. this week in video

In case you missed it, here’s a look at replay-worthy highlights from across the province this week.

PHOTOS: Procession and funeral for Const. John Davidson

Thousands attended celebration of life for Abbotsford police officer

B.C. Liberal leadership candidates debate different paths for party

Third debate held Sunday, Nov. 19 at Nanaimo’s Vancouver Island Conference Centre

Saanich police officer wins View Royal byelection

The day planner of a Saanich police officer suddenly got a lot… Continue reading

Most Read