While designer handbags and expensive cuts of meat remain high on the hit list for Calgary’s organized retail crime rings, sex toys and lingerie are becoming popular items for thieves.
Const. Lara Sampson, of the Calgary Police Service’s retail industry crime initiative, says that in addition to dealing with the “rampant issue” of expensive products being stolen and resold, she’s also seeing more and more cases of thefts from adult stores.
“People do a lot of grab-and-runs on adult sex toys,” Sampson said. “The products they are stealing are quite expensive, over $200 for certain electronic, battery-operated, plug-in items. They’re very costly.”
Sampson said some of the stolen products may be for personal use but she suspects most are being resold either online or back to other adult stores.
Const. Andrew Critchley, also of the retail industry crime initiative, said it may seem unusual for culprits to target adult stores. But thieves will take anything of high value, even low-ticket items, as long as they have good resale potential, Critchley said.
When the economy takes a dip, these crimes tend to go up, he added.
The products they are stealing are quite expensive, over $200 for certain electronic, battery-operated, plug-in items
A Little More Interesting, which has three stores in Calgary, hasn’t been hit hard, just a few “one-offs” here and there, according to manager Danielle Carrington. But other shops haven’t been so lucky.
Carrington said she recently received an email from the manager of another adult store that had experienced a “really huge theft.”
“They reached out to other stores and let us know so we could be on the lookout,” she said.
As for the resale part, Carrington said her staff have been approached by unknown independent sellers offering products for sale.
“We have, in the past, been — this was a couple years ago — contacted by somebody trying to sell us lots of toys. We responded back with, ‘Absolutely no way, you’re not a reputable supplier.’ And just passed that along to the Calgary Police Service,” she said, adding her stores carry only high-end items from registered suppliers or distributors.
“He said he inherited them, which is a bizarre thing to say.”
Saints N Sinners on Centre Street has been the victim of the grab-and-dash and has also been approached by resellers of suspected ill-gotten goods, said an employee, who declined to be named.
“They look for expensive items … they grab as much as they can,” said the worker. “Some people do try to offer [to sell] to us.”
Aura Funk, who manages one of the Love Boutique stores in Calgary, was surprised to hear about so-called grab-and-runs taking place at other adult shops in the city.
“We’ve had a few people trying to steal and whatnot, but it’s not any more than any other retail store,” Funk said. “Maybe we’re just lucky.”
Police say retail crime is a concerning problem, especially with food items, adding restaurants who serve stolen food with unknown origins are putting their clients at risk.
They urge store owners and members of the public to help combat this issue by refraining from purchasing suspected stolen items — being sold online, in back alleys or out of vehicle trunks — and reporting any suspicious activity to police.