Nearly 90 arrested in ‘Booster Initiative’ retail theft investigation with help from Durham, Halton police


Published May 22, 2024 at 10:14 am

A so called "Booster Bag" lined with tin-foil in an attempt to fool retail security systems.

Nearly 90 people have been arrested on almost 170 charges as part of a sweeping GTA-wide retail theft investigation dubbed the “Booster Initiative.”

York Regional Police spearheaded the investigation between January and March with the aid of Barrie, Durham, Halton, and Toronto police as well as the RCMP and Canadian Border Security Agency.

Investigators targeted 16 retail chains across the GTA including pharmacies and clothes stores, with the businesses’ cooperation. Over the two-month investigation, they arrested 88 people on 168 charges. However, York Police did not provide a breakdown of the specific accused and their charges.

Police allege many of the suspects escalated to violence in an attempt to complete the thefts. Some used weapons, investigators claimed. All told, the thefts added up to about $330,000 in stolen goods. However, the Booster Initiative was only able to recover little more than $114,000 worth.

The initiative takes its name from the use of so-called “booster bags” in the thefts. These are bags or containers lined with tin foil in an attempt to fool the store’s security system.

Additionally, the RCMP and Canadian Border Security worked with the investigation to connect these incidents to similar thefts outside Ontario. “This revealed merchandise being stolen in other provinces and shipped for illegal resale in the Greater Toronto Area,” York Police wrote.

Anyone with information can call police at 1-866-876-5423, ext. 7244 or Crime Stoppers anonymously at 1-800-222-TIPS (8477).

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