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Police searching for eight suspects in Conestoga Mall theft


Waterloo regional police are looking for eight males in connection to a significant theft at Conestoga Mall in Waterloo Tuesday evening.

Police say the masked suspects went into an electronics store and stole items before taking off.

No one was hurt, but additional officers were brought in to monitor the area.

Police have released this image of suspects stealing electronics from a store in Conestoga Mall on Tuesday, Oct. 10, 2023. (Submitted/Waterloo Regional Police Service)

On Wednesday morning, police released images of the suspects inside the store, grabbing merchandise including phones.

Police clarified they're not calling this a robbery.

"In order for an incident to be classified as a robbery there has to be some element of violence or weapons involved. The incident that occurred last night at the Conestoga Mall -- essentially eight male suspects entered the business and stole merchandise and left the store. There were no reported incidents of physical injuries and there were no weapons seen at the time of the incident," Const. Brad Hickey said.

This is the second theft near the mall in under a week.

Police say eight people were involved in the theft. (Submitted/Waterloo Regional Police Service)

Last Wednesday, police arrested two teens in connection to an alleged armed carjacking in the parking lot.

In February, there was an armed robbery at a jewelry store in the mall.

Hickey said mall safety is something police are keeping a close eye on.

"Obviously any sort of incident is very concerning and the recent incidents at this mall are concerning considering just the time of day and the number of people at that location at that time," he said.


South of the border, there’s been several recent incidents, including in Philadelphia and Los Angeles

Called “flash mob thefts,” they involved large groups of people storming into a store to steal merchandise.

Generally, experts say retail theft is up.

“It's North American-wide, but the data suggests that since about 2019, there's been about a 300 per cent increase in retail theft,” said Brad Davis, associate professor at Wilfrid Laurier’s Lazaridis School of Business and Economics .

Davis said the rapid push toward self-checkout and self-service could be part of the reason.

“There's physically fewer people, fewer staff around and that makes it a little bit easier on an organized level,” he said.

Having fewer workers in stores also depersonalizes the theft, making thieves feel more like they’re stealing from a corporate entity rather than staff, Davis said.

Resale options are also plentiful.

“You now also have this massive online resale opportunity so thieves don't have to be professional with how they get rid of stolen goods,” Davis said.

In response, he said stores are ramping up anti-theft devices and store surveillance. Top Stories

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