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'Criminal enterprise': York shoplifting probe leads to 172 arrests

More than $150,000 in stolen merchandise recovered, 358 charges laid as part of a York police collaboration with Vaughan Mills and Retail Council of Canada

Police have arrested 172 people, laid a total of 358 charges and recovered more than $150,000 in merchandise as part of an investigation into organized retail crime in Vaughan.

York Regional Police collaborated with Vaughan Mills, the Retail Council of Canada, and retail loss prevention officers on Dec. 6, 2023 in an effort “to reduce financial losses for retailers within the community, while enhancing security and addressing retail crime,” police said in a news release.

“High-risk retail locations were identified based on historical data as well as intelligence provided by retailers, police data and current cases. The theft project remains an ongoing initiative.”

Charges include the following:

  • Theft under $5,000 (186)
  • Possession of property obtained by crime under $5,000 (103)
  • Theft over $5,000 (four)
  • Possession of property obtained by crime over $5,000 (28)
  • Mischief under $5,000
  • Resist arrest (six)
  • Fail to appear
  • Possession of a controlled substance (10)
  • Possession for the purpose
  • Weapons dangerous (five)
  • Fail to comply (11)
  • Obstructing police
  • Assault causing bodily harm

“Shoplifting has transitioned from sporadic, small-scale theft to a highly organized criminal enterprise contributing to monetary losses in the billions and threatens the safety and security of our community members for both retailers and consumers,” the news release stated.