Calgary Criminal Lawyer Comments on Increased Food Theft

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Calgary Police are reporting an increase in the amount of shoplifting and food theft incidents.  In some cases, thousands of dollars in expensive items like steak and lobster are being sold through organized crime rings.

Calgary Constable Lara Sampson, said the majority of people behind this kind of large-scale theft are drug users addicted to opiates or other substances.

“With our big opiate crisis that we’re seeing, a lot of these people that are addicted to these drugs are looking to make fast money and by stealing meat, seafood, baby formula, grocery products, they can turn it around really fast for drugs and cash,” said Sampson.  Source:

What is shoplifting?

There are many different types of theft. The most common type is shoplifting, or theft from a retail store as opposed to theft from a private citizen. Shoplifting is a special kind of theft. It is often impulsive, sometimes compulsive.

Prosecutors in Calgary generally treat this type of theft less seriously than other types of criminal charges. Generally a shoplifting allegation is considered to be on the lowest end of the criminal law spectrum. If you have been caught shoplifting, you may be able to avoid a criminal conviction without even going to trial if you are a first time offender

What can happen if I am found guilty of theft?

The penalties for a theft conviction set out in the Criminal Code of Canada can be significant. If you have stolen goods that are valued under $5,000 the Crown Prosecutor may elect to charge you with a summary offence or the more serious, indictable offence. If charged summarily, you may be given a fine up to $2,000 or 6 months in prison or a combination of the two. If convicted of the indictable form of the offence you could be faced with a maximum of 10 years in prison.

However, if the value of the goods stolen exceeds $5,000 then you will be prosecuted with an indictable offence and therefore face a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison.

Mental Health Diversion Program

In Calgary and surrounding areas, the Mental Health Diversion Program is available to adults and adolescents with a mental illness who are charged with minor, low-risk offences.  It is set up to provide care, support and treatment as an alternative to being prosecuted by the criminal justice system.  More details on the Mental Health Diversion Program.

About Face program

Youth charged with shoplifting or other minor offences may qualify for Calgary’s About Face Program.  This is a workshop designed to provide youth 12 to 18 with the tools to avoid coming into conflict with the law.  This workshop can be an alternative for first time youth offenders to being charged by the formal justice system.  It also encourages youth to take responsibility for their behaviour and show the advantages of positive life choices.  More details on Calgary’s About Face program.

Contact a Criminal Defence Lawyer

Theft and fraud related offences can involve intricate aspects of criminal law. In defending these types of cases, it is imperative that the defence be thoroughly prepared.  Maureen McConaghy is a Calgary criminal defence lawyer with experience in cases of theft and will ensure that you receive the best possible defence.

A conviction on your record for theft or fraud can have a serious impact on your current and future employment. The consequences can be devastating. Don’t wait to seek legal advice. Call Maureen McConaghy so she can start working on your case at its earliest stage.