Calgary, AB,

Police lay charges in connection with organized retail crime

The Calgary Police Service has charged two individuals in what is believed to be a case of organized retail crime after goods shoplifted from stores were found for sale at a local flea market.

On Sunday, Oct. 25, 2015, officers visited a flea market in the 1300 block of 5 Avenue N.W. after receiving a tip from a retailer that some of their merchandise was being sold at the market illegally. Officers found one of the vendors was selling what appeared to be stolen new clothing and toiletry items.

An investigation was launched and on Wednesday, Oct. 28, 2015, police executed search warrants on a van and residence in the 1400 block of 19 Avenue N.W. and found stolen clothing, toiletry items and camping equipment worth an estimated $56,000. It is believed the goods were stolen from a few different major retail stores.

Sonia KERELUK, 75, of Calgary, is charged with possession of stolen property for the purpose of trafficking and trafficking in stolen property. She will next appear in court on Friday, Dec. 18, 2015.

William Henry FISHER, 69, of Calgary, is charged with possession of stolen property for the purpose of trafficking. He will next appear in court on Thursday, Dec. 3, 2015.

Organized retail crime is the theft of consumer goods for the purpose of illegally selling the merchandise. Often, money raised through this type of activity is used to fund other, more serious, criminal activities like purchasing drugs or weapons. However, the two individuals charged in this case are not believed to be connected to other criminal activity.

This type of crime is a growing problem in Canada and it is estimated to cost Canadian retailers over $4 billion each year. The Calgary Police Service has an Organized Retail Crime Team that is working with retailers and other areas of the Service to address the issue, but citizens can also help by not purchasing stolen goods.

Citizens can avoid purchasing stolen goods by:

  • Purchasing goods from licensed, reputable businesses only.
  • Comparing the price of goods to their typical market value. If a deal seems too good to be true, it probably is.
  • Asking sellers how they obtained the property and why they are selling it so cheap. If the answers do not add up, it should be a cause for concern.
  • Checking to see what else a seller has for sale when you come across new goods on online classifieds sites. If they are primarily selling new goods and are not a business, it should be considered a red flag.

Anyone with information on organized shoplifting or stolen goods being offered for sale is asked to report it to the Calgary Police Service non-emergency line at 403-266-1234, or Crime Stoppers anonymously using any of the following methods:

TALK: 1-800-222-8477
TEXT: tttTIPS to 27463