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This article was published 25/1/2019 (361 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
Thefts at Winnipeg Liquor Marts continue to spiral out of control, an employee said Friday, in the wake of a pepper-spray incident at a Keewatin Street location that sent one person to hospital.
"I've never seen anything like this, and where it's heading is total disaster," said the employee, who did not want to provide their name. "It's so out of control. We have people walking out with cases (of booze)."
According to the source, around 3:45 p.m. Thursday, a male suspect was approaching the exit at the Tyndall Market Liquor Mart (850 Keewatin St.), carrying liquor bottles he had not paid for, when he crossed paths with a male customer who appeared to be in his 70s.
When the customer raised his hand, motioning the man to stop, the man discharged a can of pepper spray in the customer's direction and fled. Such sprays are designed to irritates eyes, causing tears, pain, and even temporary blindness.
Winnipeg Fire Paramedic Service members treated six people at the scene, the city confirmed Friday. One of the six was taken to hospital.
No suspects have been arrested in the incident, Winnipeg Police Service spokesman Const. Jay Murray said, declining to comment on reports on the number of thefts at Liquor Mart retail locations.
On Jan. 14, police arrested three teen boys outside a Liquor Mart on Henderson Highway. Police were called after a report the suspects had smashed several bottles on the store floor before fleeing with $740 worth of liquor.
One of the suspects reportedly threw a liquor bottle at police, while another threatened to kill two officers.
"I'm not going to speak to historical trends, in regards to liquor thefts," Murray said at the time. "I do want to acknowledge that we have been working with the (Manitoba Liquor & Lotteries Corp.) and, going forward, we continue to make these arrests and work with the liquor authority to stop this crime."
The Liquor Mart employee said people are openly stealing products from the Keewatin Street store several times a day. "It's a lucky day if it's just once or twice," the employee said.
MLL made headlines in September 2018, after it was revealed thieves had taken approximately $800,000 worth of liquor from its stores in the previous 12 months, while also confirming it had ordered security guards not to physically stop any suspects.
The employee said Liquor Mart staff have since undergone a "non-violent" training course, "where they basically told us to do nothing… Our job is to basically clear a path for (thieves)."
A call to MLL for comment was not returned.
Updated on Friday, January 25, 2019 at 6:42 PM CST: Fixes photo caption