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‘It’s the Wild West’: Vancouver grocery store owner says violent incidents out of control

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Surveillance video from a downtown Vancouver grocery store has captured what the owner says is another example of the increase in violence his staff is facing every day.

On Monday night around 8 p.m. a fight broke out between a man and staff at the IGA store on Robson Street after the man had allegedly tried to steal some coffee.

Owner Anthony Sullivan said the man came into the store with his large dog, which is not allowed.

“We asked the individual to leave the store or at least tie his dog up at the front,” Sullivan told Global News Thursday. “He was unwilling to do so, non-responsive, unwilling to interact with our security, eventually our manager got involved and we escorted the individual out of the store.”

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But Sullivan said when the store manager and security confronted the man about the coffee, Sullivan said the situation turned violent.

“The individual starts punching, which starts a bit of a fistfight at the front of the store. It goes on, that individual tries to drag our manager out of the store, which he resists and eventually a customer got involved,” he added.

The customer helped restrain the man until the police arrived.


Click to play video 'VPD launch ‘Operation Arrow’ to crack down on violent shoplifting and theft in downtown core'







VPD launch ‘Operation Arrow’ to crack down on violent shoplifting and theft in downtown core


VPD launch ‘Operation Arrow’ to crack down on violent shoplifting and theft in downtown core – Feb 17, 2021

Sullivan said the security guard did go to the hospital to get some X-rays and they are still waiting on the results. The manager was not seriously injured.

“This particular incident was a little unique but we see violence all the time,” Sullivan said, adding it has been getting worse since the pandemic started.

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“It’s an ongoing topic of conversation, we’ve been trying to teach de-escalation. It used to be, ‘Just recover the product and let the people go,’ but now it’s become much more dangerous.”

“We are mindful that it’s not just us and our staff have to look after themselves.”

Vancouver police Const. Tania Visintin said assault, theft and robbery charges have been recommended against the man.

“We have seen this in the past year, especially in the downtown core, the type of violence that comes with this theft,” she said.

“This is one of the reasons that we did launch Project Arrow. We were noticing an uptick in shoplifting and shoplifting with violence.”

Just last week, the Vancouver police announced they arrested 130 suspects and seized 35 weapons in a crackdown on violent shoplifting incidents in downtown Vancouver.


Click to play video 'Vancouver police arrest 130 suspects wanted in violent shoplifting crackdown'







Vancouver police arrest 130 suspects wanted in violent shoplifting crackdown


Vancouver police arrest 130 suspects wanted in violent shoplifting crackdown – Feb 17, 2021

Sullivan said it is not a policing issue and the local government officials need to get involved in dealing with the underlying issues that can lead to these incidents.

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“It’s not one night or another night, it’s every single night,” he said.

Sullivan added recent examples include the store manager being chased by someone holding a syringe, people pulling knives on employees, among others.

“Police batons, bear spray, you name it,” he said.

“It’s like the Wild West down here every single night.”

© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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