Tabaksdiefstallen verdubbeld

In Ontario, Canada is het aantal roofovervallen waarbij tabak werd buitgemaakt sinds 2001 verdubbeld. De roofovervallen zijn een gevolg van de sterke accijnsverhogingen in Canada. Eén op de vier winkels en één op de drie tankstations heeft in het laatste jaar te maken gehad met een overval. Meer dan de helft van die overvallen betrof tabak.

Door deze overvallen is het aantal klanten dat zich ‘s avonds in winkels durft te begeven significant afgenomen.

De Ontario Convenience Store Association beklaagt zich bij de overheid dat deze geen overleg heeft gevoerd met de tabakshandel voordat ze tot de verhogingen overging.

Convenience store thefts in Ontario have more than doubled since 2001, says a new report that cites “aggressive” tobacco tax hikes as the cause. The study, released yesterday by the Ontario Convenience Store Association, attributed the 127-per-cent increase in break-ins to provincial cigarette taxes, which have risen $21 a carton over that period.

“Our fear is that we’ll become like the U.S. — that people will be afraid to shop in convenience stores at night,” said OCSA executive director Dave Bryans. “We seem to be caught as retailers between government and big tobacco. The bottom-line . . . is (to) minimize aggressive taxation.”

The report, written by former RCMP commissioner Norm Inkster, drew on police and retail-industry statistics:

– One in four convenience stores — and one in three convenience gas bars — was hit by criminals in the past year.

– More than half of the crimes involved cigarettes.

– The average store loss in a robbery rose by 96.6 per cent between 2001 and 2003.

– The average store loss during a break-in increased by 164 per cent.

The study noted that there is no definitive link between cigarette costs and increased in-store crime, but Bryans said it’s a logical conclusion and urged Ontario to involve his group before raising taxes.

“The government still imposes all their decisions on the small business owner,” he said, noting half of each store’s sales come from cigarettes.

London convenience store owners have a sympathetic ear in government. Liberal MPP Khalil Ramal (London-Fanshawe) was to raise the issue yesterday with Ontario’s health and finance ministers.

As a convenience-store owner himself who ran a south London shop until his election last year, Ramal says he understands the dangers.

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