May 25, 2019

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Incidents rise as security declines at Kildonan Place: tenant

Security guards at Kildonan Place aren't arresting shoplifters unless they witness a person stealing. (Phil Hossack / Winnipeg Free Press)</p>

Security guards at Kildonan Place aren't arresting shoplifters unless they witness a person stealing. (Phil Hossack / Winnipeg Free Press)

A retailer at Kildonan Place shopping centre is raising the alarm over what he says is a deteriorating situation of theft and violent incidents, and mall management’s foot-dragging on addressing the security concerns of tenants.

The man — who the Free Press has agreed not to name as he fears losing his job for speaking out — runs a shop at the Winnipeg mall and says the situation has worsened in the wake of changes to security protocol last year.

After three incidents on the same day last week — including a female employee being assaulted during a theft — he said he felt the need to call attention to the issue.

“In every other shopping centre I’ve ever worked in, security helps, they assist, they detain people; but here, unless it happens in their hallway, it’s not their problem,” the person said.

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A retailer at Kildonan Place shopping centre is raising the alarm over what he says is a deteriorating situation of theft and violent incidents, and mall management’s foot-dragging on addressing the security concerns of tenants.

The man — who the Free Press has agreed not to name as he fears losing his job for speaking out — runs a shop at the Winnipeg mall and says the situation has worsened in the wake of changes to security protocol last year.

After three incidents on the same day last week — including a female employee being assaulted during a theft — he said he felt the need to call attention to the issue.

"In every other shopping centre I’ve ever worked in, security helps, they assist, they detain people; but here, unless it happens in their hallway, it’s not their problem," the person said.

"When it became public knowledge that the security isn’t going to detain or intervene, or if you run out the door they’re not really going to follow, everything started getting worse."

At the start of 2018, the mall significantly peeled back security support to stores, the man said. He shared two internal Kildonan Place memos with the Free Press that were sent to retailers by mall management, informing them of updated security policies.

"Security officers are required to strictly adhere to the provisions of the Criminal Code of Canada when involved in any arrest. As such, they cannot make arrests on behalf of tenants for offences that they did not personally observe being committed," reads one of the memos.

"The responsibility of loss prevention lies exclusively with the store. Although the security department is available to assist, for legal and liability reasons, the amount of assistance given is at the discretion of the security department and is limited."

Since security guards are not stationed inside stores where they could witness thefts, employees are forced to engage in citizen’s arrests if they want to stop shoplifters. The man said he feels mall management has left tenants and their employees to fend for themselves and — predictably — thefts and violent incidents have been on the rise.

Internal memos state responsibility of loss prevention lies with the store, and security would only help in a limited capacity. (Phil Hossack / Winnipeg Free Press)</p>

Internal memos state responsibility of loss prevention lies with the store, and security would only help in a limited capacity. (Phil Hossack / Winnipeg Free Press)

The memo makes clear security staff at the mall are employed to protect the common area and ensure the safety of the staff and patrons, and would no longer be assisting stores with incidents to the same extent it had previously.

According to the Kildonan Place website, the Transcona-area mall boasts more than 100 retailers and services.

Since then, the source said thefts are happening on a daily basis and culprits largely go unpunished even when caught in the act. In addition, there’s been a rise in confrontations — sometimes violent — with visitors to the mall, he said.

"Yesterday, a girl in a clothing store, who was working alone, was assaulted and robbed by somebody. She ran into the hall and yelled for help from security and the (suspect) turned around and assaulted her, pushing her down onto the ground," the man said.

He also described a recent incident he said was particularly disturbing that involved a man wearing a mask at a common play area for children.

"This man had been thrown out of a store for wearing a mask. Then, after he’s escorted into the hallway, he climbs over the wall into this daycare area and starts yelling about how, ‘These are God’s children,’" the source said.

"He started picking kids up and holding them in the air and saying, ‘These are God’s kids.’ There was no security anywhere nearby to make sure these kids are safe from stuff like this. There’s someone who’s clearly crazy and nothing’s being done about that."

The Free Press reached out to Kildonan Place management for comment on March 7. A written response was sent to the Free Press Wednesday morning.

"The safety and well-being of our shoppers, tenants and employees is a top priority for us at Kildonan Place. The number of security officers at the mall is the same as it was last year (except for a brief time in the busy Christmas period, when we brought on an additional security officer as we do each year," the statement reads.

"As always, we remain vigilant and responsive regarding security and we communicate with our tenants on a regular basis to ensure their needs are met. We are responding and will continue to respond and are ready and able to make any security-related changes that may be required to ensure a continued safe, enjoyable experience for everyone at the shopping centre."

ryan.thorpe@freepress.mb.ca

Twitter: @rk_thorpe

Ryan Thorpe

Ryan Thorpe
Reporter

Ryan Thorpe likes the pace of daily news, the feeling of a broadsheet in his hands and the stress of never-ending deadlines hanging over his head.

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