July 3, 2020

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Woman suspected in 19 Liquor Mart heists

JOHN WOODS / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS FILES</p>

JOHN WOODS / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS FILES

Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 18/9/2018 (654 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

A 25-year-old woman suspected in 19 Manitoba Liquor Mart heists and three retail store robberies was arrested Monday, after being stopped by store security officers and held until police arrived.

Winnipeg police said the woman is a suspect in the theft of liquor worth $3,760 from numerous locations between June 15 and Aug. 27. The suspect would enter a store, grab some alcohol and leave without paying for it, police said.

She is also suspected in thefts of merchandise worth about $655 from three retail stores, including one Aug. 4 on the 600 block of Empress Street, when two women reportedly used a metal pipe to threaten employees.

In a statement Tuesday, the Manitoba Liquor & Lotteries Corporation said it was pleased to hear police were able to arrest and charge a suspect in connection with the robberies at its Liquor Marts.

MLL said it is continuing to work with police about the thefts at Liquor Marts, as well as preparing to meet with Manitoba Government and General Employees' Union representatives -- the union which represents 1,211 employees at liquor stores, administration, distribution and warehouse -- about the issue, later this month.

"While we continue to work diligently to find a solution to this problem, we would like to remind the public not to intervene should they witness a theft in progress," the MLL statement said. "Intervening could lead to someone being seriously, or gravely, injured."

Last week, Winnipeg police said there had been close to 1,300 thefts from liquor stores in the last year, while MLL provided statistics which showed about $800,000 worth of liquor was stolen from Liquor Marts during that time period.

Earlier this week, MGEU president Michelle Gawronsky confirmed thefts are also a problem at liquor stores in other areas of the province.

Gawronsky said during the upcoming meeting with MLL executives union leadership will float the idea of looking at returning to a system when employees controlled the sale of alcohol instead of having customers shop for booze like they do groceries.

The MLL statement also said, after several days of news stories about thefts of liquor from its stores, it would no longer be providing any comment on its security policies and/or changes it might be looking into.

"Talking about security and anti-theft policies in a public forum is compromising the safety of our staff and customers and undermining the effectiveness of possible solutions to this problem."

The suspect arrested Monday was apprehended by officers after she tried to rob a retail store on the 1200 block of St. Mary’s Road a second time, police said.

Police said when the suspect first went to the retail store Sept. 10, she threatened security staff with a knife, said she had bear spray, and fled with about $95 worth of clothing. The woman came back Monday night, and tried to leave with $200 worth of clothing, but security staff intervened until officers arrived, police said.

Alicia Yvonne Leitch of Winnipeg is facing a number of theft and robbery charges. She is being held in custody.

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