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Toronto Shoplifting and Theft Under $5000 Charges Lawyer

Shoplifting in Toronto, Canada

Shoplifting is statistically one of the most common criminal offences in Canada. While most shoplifting cases go unreported to the police (particularly those that occur in smaller stores), each day upwards of 70 people are caught shoplifting in the Greater Toronto Area. Of these 70 arrests, most are made in just a handful of larger department stores that have the security capacity to catch and detain shoplifters.

Two stores in particular are responsible for the largest number of theft under $5000 arrests:
  1. The Bay
  2. Winners
Shoplifting in Toronto
Many Toronto shoplifting cases result from charges at The Bay or Winners stores.
Theft under $5000 charges
Many Toronto shoplifting cases result from charges at The Bay or Winners stores.

The Bay and Winners catch more shoplifters than any other stores in the Toronto area. Both specialize in selling clothes, which are the items most targeted by shoplifters. If you walk into a Bay or Winners location and look around you will see they invest significantly in shoplifting prevention, including such things as:
  1. CCTV (closed circuit television) cameras
  2. Publically displayed video screens upon entrance (for deterrence)
  3. Uniformed security officers, often stationed at the entrance/exit points (for deterrence)
  4. Mirrors, which deter shoplifting by giving shoppers the impression they are being watched
  5. Alarm tag security systems
In addition to making these security technologies obvious to customers (to prevent them from trying), these stores also hire numerous undercover private investigators (security guards) to walk around in plain clothes and watch the customers.

Undercover security guards are the #1 way in which department stores catch shoplifters. If you enter a Winners or The Bay, you can rest assured that undercover guards are likely watching your every move (both in person and on CCTV). Store security in these locations also focus highly on individuals using their fitting room areas as many shoplifters will attempt to wear clothes out of the store without paying.

People who have shoplifted successfully at smaller stores for years often face a shock when they attempt to shoplift in a Winners or The Bay location and end up criminally charged for it. Your chances of being caught are probably 20 times greater at either of these two locations than your average small store. Shoplifting cases originating from The Bay also tend to have higher monetary values as their items tend to be more expensive.

While not as prolific at catching shoplifters as The Bay and Winners, these stores also invest a lot in security and are responsible for a significant number of arrests in the Toronto area:
  1. Wal-Mart
  2. Costco
  3. Dollarama
  4. Superstore/Loblaws stores (including No Frills)
  5. Canadian Tire
  6. Home Depot
  7. Shoppers Drug Mart
Toronto’s Plastic Bags leading to increased shoplifting cases?

In Toronto, new municipal laws discouraging the use of plastic bags have also led to an increase of theft under $5000 charges. Walking out of a store with an un-bagged item is now a normal part of shopping. For many this feels unnatural and even some paying customers report feeling like they are “doing something wrong”. For those who get an urge to steal in retail environments, putting items in their own bag that they entered the store with (as opposed to a shopping cart) can lead to a temptation to shoplift that is very difficult to control.

The consensus from store owners, security guards, and police is clear: Toronto’s bag usage discouragement policies have led to increased shoplifting in the city.

Seasonal Differences

Shoplifting in Toronto peaks around Christmas time for four reasons:
  1. People are feeling a financial pressure to steal
  2. Customers in busy stores feel less vulnerable and “protected by the crowd”
  3. Customers are wearing winter clothing that provides more opportunity to hide and conceal items
  4. More people in stores means more thefts and more security guards/private investigators working to catch them
In the summer time Toronto experiences an influx of tourists many of whom get caught shoplifting. A lot of these individuals are visiting Canada from countries where more stores employ less advanced technologies. Like any other person caught shoplifting, these people are issued an Appearance Notice (Form 9) by the police and are required to comply with fingerprinting and court appearance requirements.

For travellers (often tourists or temporary workers), having to return to (or remain in) Canada for fingerprints and court can be a major inconvenience. If they fail to attend the police station for fingerprints and/or fail to appear in court they can face additional charges and convictions in their absence (which may negatively impact their travel abilities in the future). Hiring a lawyer to assist with their case can allow them to avoid attending court (on some occasions) and minimize problems associated with the charge itself.

Call us today for a free assessment

You don't have to jeopardize your future or waste thousands of dollars on excessive legal fees. We provide effective and affordable lawyer representation for those charged with all forms of theft and fraud related offences throughout Ontario, Canada.

Have a skilled criminal lawyer who focuses on theft and fraud related charges protect you and your future from the stigma and consequences of a criminal record.

Your case will be defended by a fully licensed Practicing Lawyer of the Law Society of Ontario. For more information about our lawyer, click here.

We provide our clients with:
  • Flat fee pricing
  • US travel advice and information
  • Employment background check advice/services
  • Fingerprints and records destruction services
  • Clear goals of getting charges dropped and bail conditions varied without a trial
  • Help with related immigration issues
  • Vulnerable Sector records suppression help
  • Experienced, focused counsel

* Please note:

If you are not a paying client, we cannot answer questions and provide assistance with U.S. travel, immigration, employment background checks, and avoiding a criminal record. This includes those who have already retained other counsel and those whose cases have already been completed. We also only take calls/emails relating to Ontario, Canada area cases.

Are you a lawyer? If you are defending a theft or fraud related case and are looking for expert advice regarding possible defences, case strategies, and information release management call us at: 647-228-5969.

Please note: We do not accept legal aid certificate cases. All clients are handled on a private retainer only.


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  We provide:
  • Flat fee pricing
  • 99%+ non-conviction success rate
  • U.S. travel advice and information
  • Help with related immigration issues
  • Employment background check advice/services
  • Fingerprints and records destruction services
  • A clear goal of getting the charges dropped without a trial
  • Vulnerable Sector records suppression help
  • Timely resolutions
  • Lawyer/client privilege
  • Experienced, focused counsel