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Winnipeg theft in spotlight after man arrested for stealing $10,000 worth of meat

Food Fare’s owner, Munther Zeid, is all too used to shoplifters in Winnipeg. He said they’re coming in more often and getting more brazen — particularly when it comes to meat.

“They’re taking whatever meat possible. We had a situation last week where a gentleman filled up a basket, and once we scanned it all, it was $230 worth of product,” he said.

Meat is a common target for theft.

Last week, police arrested and charged a man with 18 counts of theft and seven counts of robbery. Officers said he targeted grocery stores around the city over several months and stole $10,000 worth of meat products.

Const. Jason Michalyshen said that kind of volume indicates organized crime.

“When we’re talking about large quantities of meat, there is a market — a black market — that you’re talking about, where it would be probably a pretty tight-knit group of individuals, a very trusted group of individuals, within,” he said.

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Police said meat is targeted because it’s expensive and because there’s a demand for it.

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Michalyshen says it’s possible the suspect may have been taking orders on things to steal.

Zeid said he wouldn’t be surprised.

“They’re going over specific cuts, and large quantities of it. It’s not like they’re taking one because they’re hungry. They’re taking four or five, six, 10 — whatever they can get away with,” he said.

John Graham, director of government relations with the Retail Council of Canada, said there’s been a steady meat resale market for a long time.

He said grocery stores everywhere are getting worried — not just about increasing theft, but aggressive thieves.

“They’re prolific, they are brazen, they’re undeterred by existing consequences right now. Most have been getting a slap on the wrist and are back at it again very quickly,” he said.

Graham said a retail theft initiative by Winnipeg police has made a dent in the problem, but it will take more coordination between them, business owners and prosecutors to see long-term results.

with files from Global’s Katherine Dornian

Click to play video: 'Warrants issued for two Winnipeggers accused in rash of retail thefts'

Warrants issued for two Winnipeggers accused in rash of retail thefts


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