Thefts and robberies targeting Manitoba Liquor Marts have decreased significantly since the province turned to controlled entrances in hopes of mitigating the perpetual acts of crime.

According to information provided by the Manitoba Liquor & Lotteries, as of mid-December 2020, controlled entrances have been installed at all Winnipeg locations. There are four locations in Brandon that have been provided with the increased security feature, as are both Portage la Prairie locations, and the lone Selkirk location. In December 2020, the first full month with controlled entrances installed at the Portage la Prairie and Brandon stores, there were no thefts or robberies at those locations. Conversely, those same stores experienced 22 total thefts in December 2019.

“All of us at Manitoba Liquor & Lotteries are pleased with the results the controlled entrances have had in significantly reducing the incidents of thefts – and especially robberies – at our Liquor Marts. To be able to return our stores to a place where our customers and employees can shop and work without the looming threat of violence has been a great relief,” says Manny Atwal, President & CEO of Manitoba Liquor & Lotteries. “In November 2019, Manitoba Liquor & Lotteries committed, with the full support of the government, to stop the brazen thefts and robberies occurring in our stores and initiated the controlled entrance initiative. Shortly after embarking on this project, a serious and unprovoked incident at our Tyndall location only strengthened our resolve to have Liquor Marts again be a safe environment for all.” 

Since controlled entrances have been introduced at Liquor Marts, the decrease in thefts and robberies has been dramatic. The data shows:

  • In the six months before receiving their controlled entrance, the five highest hit Liquor Marts recorded a total of 2,633 thefts. In the six months after controlled entrances became operational, the combined total of thefts at these locations had dropped to just 66, a decrease of 97.5 per cent. During its worst week (Aug. 12-18, 2019,) Liquor Marts saw 462 thefts. 
  • With the introduction of controlled entrances in Liquor Marts, the Crown Corporation says the average number of weekly thefts has dropped significantly. Between Nov. 30, 2020, and Jan. 3, 2021, there was an average of 12 theft incidents per week at the 63 Liquor Mart locations province-wide.

Additionally, the thefts occurring in Liquor Marts with controlled entrances are no longer of a brazen nature where individuals were stealing large quantities of product and often threatening violence. For the minor number of thefts that occur, Manitoba Liquor & Lotteries can provide law enforcement with identification information. 

“As with most things in business, the only constant thing is change,” said Mr. Atwal. “While we continue to work through the growing pains associated with implementing additional processes related to controlled entrances, the COVID-19 pandemic has presented us with unexpected and unique circumstances that we could not have foreseen. New health and safety protocols are here to reduce the spread of the virus have again changed the retail experience. We continue to do our utmost to meet these challenges head-on, determined to provide a safe environment while maintaining the superior customer service levels Manitobans expect at their local Liquor Mart. In addition to the increased cleaning, screening, and numerous other protocols we have implemented, we expedited the expansion of our Home Delivery program and piloted a curbside pickup program to increase the options our customers have to shop safely.” 

Controlled entrances have also drastically reduced the impact on shrinkage. In the first three quarters of 2019/20, shrinkage at retail was 0.65 per cent of sales. In the same timeframe in fiscal 2020/21, shrink at retail is 0.05 per cent of sales, a 92 per cent reduction from the previous year. 

Based on data collected by the Crown Corporation, a public opinion survey on the controlled entrances suggests 89 per cent of respondents supported the new entrances.


Written by Josh Jackson