COMMENTARY: Cornwall police keep helping shoplifters

Getting the clues from the public while they’re fresh and helping people recall what they may have just seen are keys to solving a crime. That’s just basic common sense.

But what lacks common sense is a rigid Cornwall Police Service policy it parrots of keeping identities withheld to “protect the victim” – even when that victim is not a person.

There are cases where shielding the identity is warranted, such as sexual assault, which would be protected by the courts anyway by publication ban.

If I asked you, were you at FreshCo on a Wednesday afternoon, you probably would know almost instantly. Now if I asked you, were you at a Ninth Street business last week – any of the scores of businesses in the three kilometers of that street – that might be a little more challenging to recall.

Plus, if I asked you if you had been there in the the past few days, you could probably easily remember. A month ago? Good luck. I can’t even remember where I was outside of a week. Yet, the CPS seems to hold on to security camera images of suspected shoplifters for upwards of a month, using the public as a last resort.

The CPS has been asked repeatedly to look into this policy but it falls on deaf ears year after year. I used the FreshCo example as it was the latest sticky-fingered “mystery shopper” – that happened a month ago.

Shoplifting cases in this city have jumped 24 per cent between 2018 and 2019 and it’s the third highest type of property crime, behind lost and found property and non-shoplifting theft.

Two things need to happen if we want to stop the scourge of shoplifters. The Cornwall Police Service needs to update its policy and be more timely and businesses who are victims shouldn’t feel ashamed. They need to speak up and tell the police they need to be identified in order to solve crimes.

I’m Bill Kingston.