DrinkSense logo  GameSense logo

You are here

Stop Theft

 

Controlled Entrances Initiative

Over the past two years, Manitoba Liquor & Lotteries, like other Winnipeg retailers, has seen a dramatic increase in brazen thefts and robberies in our Winnipeg Liquor Marts.

In response to this situation, Liquor & Lotteries is in the process of installing controlled entrances at all Winnipeg Liquor Marts.

As retailer that prides itself on customer service and offering a modern, shopping experience, we know these measures are inconvenient, however, providing a safe environment for our employees and customers comes first. We look forward to welcoming you at your local Liquor Mart where, once inside, you can expect the same great customer service you have always known.

At those stores with a controlled entrance, the inner doors to the Liquor Mart are locked. Before being allowed entry, customers must provide valid photo identification to the security guard on duty. The ID is scanned, and information is retained for 24 hours. Please note that once a Liquor Mart is operational with a controlled entrance, minors of any age are no longer permitted in the store. Please see our Photo ID & Minors section for more information.
Liquor Marts have a longstanding reputation for offering a great shopping experience with excellent customer service. This begins with customers and employees feeling safe. We heard from customers and employees who told us that this was no longer the case. Controlled entrances are one of the steps that we’re taking to reclaim that safety.
We are currently in the final phases of our rollout of the controlled entrance initiative to all 36 Winnipeg Liquor Marts with the remaining locations expected to be completed by the end of June 2020.
Even though all controlled entrances have yet to be installed at Winnipeg Liquor Marts, we have been seeing much success with this initiative. Over the past several months, we have gone from over 400 thefts and robberies weekly down to less than a dozen. We have also had a positive response from both employees and customers who have indicated they feel safe working and shopping in a Liquor Mart again.
Once all Winnipeg Liquor Mart locations are complete, we will consider expanding the controlled entrance initiative to some stores in other centres where theft risks warrant it.
There has been no indication that the thefts and robberies we were seeing in our Liquor Marts is migrating to the parking lots, however it’s always a good idea to be aware of your surroundings. Here are some ways to stay safe in public, no matter where you are:

• Remember that your safety is more important than anything you’re carrying.
• Park and walk in well-lit, busy areas.
• Stay off your phone while walking. Keep your attention on your surroundings.
• If you get approached outside or see someone suspicious, go to the nearest open business.

Manitoba Liquor & Lotteries has not increased its markups (our portion of the retail price that generates revenues) in response to the increased levels of theft or the cost of installing controlled entrances. Any price increases customers may see are a result of regular price changes implemented by the liquor suppliers.

'

     

Click to view full-size photos
Media library (approved video and photos for media use)

Please be aware that as of Thursday, September 10, anyone entering a Liquor Mart is required to wear a face mask. When you enter the store, you will be asked to briefly remove your face mask so we can make sure you match your photo ID, and that you are over the age of 18. Hand sanitizer is available in the vestibule for you to use before and after you remove your mask.
 

Did you know?

Asking customers to identify themselves as they enter our stores has proven to be an effective deterrent to the thefts and robberies we've experienced over the last two years. Over the past several months, we have gone from more than 400 thefts and robberies weekly down to fewer than a dozen. We have also had a positive response from both employees and customers who have indicated they feel safe working and shopping in a Liquor Mart again. Learn more about the anti-theft measures at Liquor Marts.
 

Face Mask FAQs

As a courtesy to our customers, and for a limited time, Manitoba Liquor & Lotteries will provide a disposable mask to you, free of charge, when you enter a Liquor Mart without a mask.

At stores with controlled entrances, the security guard will sanitize both sides of the pass-through tray and then pass you a face mask. At stores without a controlled entrance, employees will be stationed just inside the entrance to provide you with a mask if needed. There is sanitizer available for you to use just inside of the store entrances. Please note these disposable masks are only available while supplies last.

We strongly encourage you to bring your own mask on your next visit.

 

Effective Thursday, September 10, masks are mandatory for anyone entering a Liquor Mart. Unfortunately, disposable masks are only available for a limited time and while supplies last. If you do not have a face mask with you, you will not be permitted to enter and shop in our stores. We strongly encourage you to bring your own mask on your next visit.

 

We understand that some customers are unwilling to wear face masks for a variety of reasons. For the health and safety of our employees and customers, everyone entering a Liquor Mart is required to wear a face mask. If you aren’t wearing an effective face covering, you will be denied entry.

Did you know?

From beer vendors to specialty wine stores, Manitoba has a number of public and private liquor retailing options. If you are in Winnipeg or Brandon, you may want to consider trying our home delivery service. Alternatively, consider enlisting a friend or family member to pick up your order for you.

 

We recognize and respect that some people are unable to wear a face mask for medical reasons. Instead, you are welcome to wear a face shield as an alternative to a face mask. A proper face shield should be made of plastic, fit over your face above the nose and below the chin, and be held in place by head straps, ear loops, or a cap.

If you are unable to wear a face mask OR a face shield then, unfortunately, we will be unable to serve you in-store. For the safety and health of staff and customers, you must wear a face covering to enter and shop in our stores. If you are unable wear a face mask or shield, you may want to ask a family member or friend to shop for you, or try our home delivery service. You may also want to consider visiting some of Manitoba's other private liquor retailing options.

Thank you for your understanding. We are sorry for the inconvenience.

 

As per public health guidelines, you will be asked to briefly remove or lower your mask so that we can confirm your identification and that you are over 18 years old. If you refuse to remove or lower your mask, you will not be allowed to enter the Liquor Mart.

Hand sanitizer is available in the Liquor Mart vestibule for you to use before and after you touch your mask. You can adjust, lower or remove your mask without compromising its integrity by using the ear loops or ties. Try to avoid touching your face, eyes and mouth when removing or lowering your face mask.

If you are asked to remove your mask at the point of sale for age verification, ask the Liquor Mart representative for some hand sanitizer before and after you touch your mask. If you decline to remove your mask, service will be refused.

Did you know?

This Liquor Mart policy of not covering your face while in our stores has been in place for many years. It has always applied to anything covering your face like Halloween masks, balaclavas, large scarves, hoods, motorcycle helmets, and religious face coverings, and now it also applies to personal protective equipment like face masks.

By briefly lowering or removing your mask, you help us make sure the person trying to enter our store matches the identification they have presented, reducing the risk that a thief could use stolen identification to enter a Liquor Mart to commit a crime.

Liquor Marts are not alone in asking for face coverings to be briefly lowered or removed for the purpose of identification. Retail operations, such as cannabis stores, as well as the Winnipeg Richardson International Airport (pre-boarding), also require the brief removal of masks for this same reason.

Manitoba Public Health has indicated that people can temporarily remove their mask while in an indoor public place to establish their identity.

 

For the safety and health of all customers and staff, you must wear a proper face mask while shopping at your local Liquor Mart. Non-medical disposable face masks are acceptable, as are reusable face masks. An effective reusable face mask must:

  • Be made of multiple layers (at least two layers)
  • Use tightly woven materials (e.g. cotton or linen)
  • Fit securely with no gaps, and
  • Must not have any holes or valves that are open to the air.

Please note that bandanas, t-shirts, gaiters, scarves, and neck warmers are all examples of unsuitable masks and will not be accepted as an appropriate face mask.

If you do not have an appropriate mask, a disposable mask will be provided, for a limited time, at no charge.

It’s also important to remember that wearing a mask does not replace physical distancing and hand hygiene requirements. Please maintain a distance of 2 metres/6 feet from others in the store whenever possible. Hand sanitizer is also available at all Liquor Marts for your use.

 

Hand sanitizer is available in the Liquor Mart vestibule for you to use before and after you touch your mask.

You can adjust, lower or remove your mask without compromising its integrity by using the ear loops or ties. Try to avoid touching your face, eyes and mouth when removing or lowering your face mask.

If you are asked to lower or remove your mask at the point of sale for age verification, ask the Liquor Mart representative for some hand sanitizer before and after you touch your mask.

The guards working at Liquor Marts with controlled entrances are cleaning and disinfecting their gloves, equipment and pass-through slot before serving the next customer:
  • the guard's gloves are cleaned and disinfected after handling each customer's ID;
  • the metal pass-through slot is cleaned with a hydrogen peroxide disinfectant after each customer;
  • ID scanning equipment is wiped down after each use with a hydrogen peroxide disinfectant;
  • the glass security partition is cleaned regularly; more often if customers have sneezed, coughed, etc. within the space.

Public health guidelines recommend non-medical face coverings where proper physical distancing cannot be maintained. For this reason, we have implemented staggered customer entry to ensure that proper social distancing requirements are maintained within the vestibule.

If you are concerned that proper protocols are not being followed at the controlled entrance, please speak with the store manager.

 

From beer vendors to specialty wine stores, Manitoba has a number of public and private liquor retailing options. You may also want to consider giving our home delivery service a try. Place and pay for orders online and have it delivered right to your door. Delivery service is available in Winnipeg and Brandon only. If possible, you may prefer to enlist a friend or family member to pick it up for you.

 

Photo ID FAQs

Once a location has a controlled entrance, all customers must show valid photo identification at the entrance. The ID will be scanned before the customer is allowed into the store. In the coming weeks and months, controlled entrances will be rolled out to all Winnipeg Liquor Marts. 
Manitoba Liquor & Lotteries is committed to providing our employees and customers a safe working and shopping experience. ID is a deterrent to would-be thieves who do not want their identity known. It also helps law enforcement in the event of an incident.
When we scan your ID, we are making sure your photo ID is legitimate (not fake), valid (not expired), and that you are 18 or older.
When we scan your ID, we are collecting three pieces of information: your photo, your name and your birthdate. A photo of your identification is not being taken, nor are we capturing any additional information beyond what is noted above.
Your scanned photo ID will not be released to any third-party except for law enforcement purposes if necessary. We will not be tracking visits, purchases, or using the information collected for marketing or promotional purposes.
The information collected is held for no more than 24 hours and then deleted unless it is required for law enforcement purposes.
Section 36 (1)(c) of The Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act (FIPPA) allows Manitoba Liquor & Lotteries to collect information “for law enforcement purposes or crime prevention.”
Liquor & Lotteries will manage, store and protect your scanned photo ID according to the Manitoba Ombudsman’s guidelines on privacy and surveillance. All information collected is encrypted and access to it is restricted and logged. Your scanned photo ID will not be released to any third-party except for law enforcement purposes
The same forms of ID that are already accepted for proof of age are accepted for entry at the security station. These include:
  • Driver’s Licence issued in Manitoba or another jurisdiction
  • Enhanced Driver’s Licence issued in Manitoba or another jurisdiction
  • Manitoba Identification Card
  • Manitoba Enhanced Identification Card
  • Secure Certificate of Indian Status
  • Passport

Alternatively, two forms of government-issued identification may be shown, one of which must be photo ID. Examples include:

  • Certificate of Indian Status
  • Certificate of Canadian Citizenship
  • Permanent Resident Card
  • Canadian Firearms Licence
  • Canadian Forces Identification Card (National Defence)
  • Nexus Card
Unfortunately, without valid ID you won’t be able to enter any Liquor Mart that has a controlled entrance. We understand that some people don’t have ID and are not used to needing it to buy liquor. For those customers, the most convenient form of valid ID to obtain is likely a Manitoba Identification Card. This is not a driver’s licence. Visit MPI’s information page on identification cards.

If you still have questions or concerns about what forms of identification are accepted at controlled entrances, please send us a message.

No minors are permitted in Liquor Marts that have controlled entrances. This includes small children, even if they are with their parent or guardian.
Only people who are legally able to consume our products will be allowed in a store with a controlled entrance. 

It is impossible for security guards to quickly and easily determine or make decisions regarding what is an appropriate age for minors to enter, and we are unable to ID minors to prove their age. For this reason, we have decided to remove access for all minors.

We know that this means you will have to plan your shopping trip to a Liquor Mart differently than you are used to. We appreciate your understanding and cooperation as we continue to improve safety at our stores. 

If you still have questions or concerns about minors being restricted from entering our Liquor Marts, please send us a message.

Customers will begin to see the security station under construction one to two weeks before the new entrance rules take effect. We recommend you start carrying your photo ID with you if you don’t already.
For more information on our privacy policy and who you can contact regarding your personal information, please visit our Privacy Policy page on this site.
Manitoba Liquor & Lotteries uses security and anti-theft strategies that are on par with not only other Canadian liquor jurisdictions, but major private retailers across Canada.

Our corporate Investigation and surveillance teams work closely with the Winnipeg Police Service (WPS) and this, coupled with the presence of WPS special duty constables and our own loss prevention officer team, has led to the identification and arrest of hundreds of individuals. We continue to diligently analyze and explore all options in addressing this issue.

The trend of brazen thefts is not isolated to Liquor Marts. Other local retailers, including grocery and department stores, are also experiencing high rates of theft at their businesses. The Retail Council of Canada has noted that downtown Winnipeg’s theft rate is triple (4-5%) that of the national average (1.44%). Winnipeg Police Service data also shows a dramatic increase in shoplifting. It has been reported that between August 2018 and July 2019, the number of shoplifting incidents disclosed to police increased by almost 82% over the previous year. The United Food Workers of Canada has spoken out about their concerns about thefts occurring at Winnipeg grocery stores.
In the event of a theft, please listen to and follow the instructions provided by Liquor Mart staff. We know how hard it is to witness these crimes and do nothing, but it is important that you DO NOT INTERVENE in an active theft. This means that you:

• do not record the theft or robbery with your phone;
• do not try to stop, trip, or tackle thieves;
• do not try to engage, confront or follow thieves;
• do not try to recover stolen product.

Liquor Mart employee training is focused on theft prevention. Our staff are trained to approach people they think may be stealing, speak with them, and discourage them from leaving the store with the product - a method that has been effective with traditional shoplifters.

Over the last few years, there has been a paradigm shift to the types of brazen thefts we have been seeing. The people committing these crimes are not your average shoplifter. They are often dangerous and have little regard for the people working and shopping at Liquor Marts. We do not want, nor expect our employees to intervene in an active crime or attempt to apprehend thieves.

Security guards stationed inside Liquor Marts play an important role in observing, detecting and deterring theft, however, they are not police and must conform to a different set of standards. They employ nonviolent crisis intervention techniques, which focuses on strategies for defusing hostile and violent situations, the standard for retailers across the country. Security guards are important to the safety and security of Liquor Mart employees and customers.

All Liquor Marts are equipped with state-of-the-art surveillance equipment that captures high definition images from all angles. We work closely with the Winnipeg Police Service, and they, as well as our Loss Prevention Officer team, have been successful in catching and arresting the individuals committing these thefts.

Between October 1, 2018 and May 18, 2020 the Winnipeg Police Service made 513 arrests related to Liquor Mart thefts and robberies. Between October 14, 2019 and May 18, 2020, Manitoba Liquor & Lotteries’ Loss Prevention Officer Team enacted 160 arrests.
According to the Alberta Liquor Store Association, there have been 5,000 liquor store robberies in Edmonton alone in 2019, a 300% increase over 2018. Many of the Alberta liquor thefts echo what we have seen in Liquor Marts; people entering the store with duffel bags, swarming techniques, etc. The theft epidemic we are seeing in Winnipeg is not isolated to our city.
We have received hundreds of comments and suggestions on ways to address Liquor Mart thefts. Please be assured we have read every one of your emails/letters and have shared them with our retail and corporate security teams. Unfortunately, we are not able to respond to every message, but we do appreciate you taking the time to share your thoughts and ideas.

 

 


 

 

Quick Links

 

News Releases

Twitter Feeds