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Victoria police nab 23 shoplifting suspects in two-day blitz

Almost $14,000 in stolen merchandise was recovered in the Feb. 9-11 operation, which follows a similar crackdown in December
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VicPD arrest a man in a shoplifting incident at Lululemon at 584 Johnson St. in August 2023. TIMES COLONIST

Close to two dozen people were arrested in another blitz targeting violent and repeat shoplifters in Victoria.

Almost $14,000 in stolen merchandise was recovered in the operation, which ran from Feb. 9-11.

Victoria police worked with loss-prevention staff at 13 stores around the city.

It was the second round of an ongoing campaign dubbed Project Lifter, which began as an eight-day effort in November and December during which 109 arrests were made and more than $29,000 in stolen goods was recovered.

Four of the 23 people arrested in the most recent crackdown were also arrested in the previous one, and one person was arrested twice.

Officers offered those arrested information on accessing housing, substance-use services and other community supports “in an effort to break the cyclical nature of these crimes,” police said.

Funding for the project came from the provincial Special Investigations and Targeted Enforcement program, a three-year pilot project supporting police in dealing with violent and repeat offenders.

West Shore RCMP also had a crackdown on shoplifting late last year, a six-week initiative focused on big-box stores and major grocery outlets that led to 27 arrests.

They said that reported cases of shoplifting under $5,000 in their jurisdiction jumped about 29 per cent in 2023 from 2022, increasing from 400 to 514.

jbell@timescolonist.com