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Shopping carts that lock and security gates? Shoppers sound off on retailers’ anti-theft tactics



Mark Barrey says a recent shopping trip to his neighbourhood Zehrs in Waterloo, Ont., was humiliating.

He said just before leaving Zehrs, a grocery chain owned by Loblaw, a “ridiculously loud” alarm went off and the wheels on his shopping cart locked.

“I’m standing there, my neighbours walking past me, looking at me like I’ve done something wrong,” said Barrey. “It was incredibly embarrassing.”

He says a store security employee checked his customer receipt, which proved he hadn’t stolen anything. Even though he was now in the clear, Barrey said he had to wait with the immobile cart — with the alarm still blaring — until the employee found the remote device used to deactivate its wheel lock.


“There was no explanation … no apology,” said Barrey. “If you’re going to treat me like I am a criminal, I am not going to patronize your establishments.”

Shopping cart wheels.
CBC News interviewed several customers who said, when exiting a Loblaw-owned store recently, the wheels on their shopping cart locked and they had to show their receipts. (Keith Burgess/CBC)

According to the Retail Council of Canada, retail theft is on the rise, fuelled in part by organized crime and inflation. Although Canada’s inflation rate declined last month, food, and mortgage costs remain stubbornly high.

Several retailers, such as Loblaw and Walmart, have stepped up security. However, some tactics have sparked customer backlash, such as receipt checks and Loblaw locking wheels on customers’ carts.

“It pissed me off,” said Yvette Ogle of Kitchener, Ont. She says, last month, her cart’s wheels suddenly locked when leaving her local Zehrs, and she had to show her receipt to get them unlocked.

“I did absolutely nothing wrong that day and it was just, I feel, very heavy-handed.”

Rebecca Lawrence said, two weeks ago, she endured the same experience at a Loblaw-owned Superstore in Dartmouth, N.S.

“Why am I being singled out?'” she said. “It doesn’t feel great given the fact that we’re in a food insecurity crisis and prices are going up and up.”

Loblaw responds

Loblaw told CBC News that organized retail crime is growing, with thieves stealing large amounts of pricey items such as cosmetics and baby formula, which they resell online.

“We’ve had to make some changes in how our stores operate to stop this crime … while at the same time maintaining a welcoming and convenient customer experience,” said spokesperson Catherine Thomas in an email.


Loblaw customers angry about receipt checks


Loblaw customers are disgusted by signs posted in stores that say customers must be prepared to show their receipts to validate their purchases. Some say it adds insult to injury with inflated prices and call the search of bags an invasion of privacy.

She did not answer questions about the company’s cart wheel locking system, or explain why certain shoppers are targeted.

However, Thomas did say that Loblaw is “working to find the right balance” with its security measures and welcomes customer input.

Barrey says he complained to Loblaw about his experience on social media, but never heard back.

On Wednesday, Loblaw reported a quarterly profit of $508 million in the past three months, as food and drug sales continue to grow.

Gates in stores

Shoppers are also complaining about metal security gates recently installed in some stores with designated entry and exit points.

Tristan Capacchione of Montreal says his local Loblaw-owned Provigo has put up barriers throughout the grocery store, including gates at self-checkout that employees open as shoppers exit.

“It’s just frustrating. It feels like you’re being restricted in your movement,” said Capacchione. “They’re choosing to combat theft in a way that disadvantages the regular customer.”

Loblaw did not answer questions about gates except to say they’re a theft deterrent.

A security gate set up at a Provigo store in Montreal.
Many Loblaw stores have installed security gates with designated entry and exit points. (Submitted by Tristan Capacchione)

Walmart Canada has installed gates in a majority of its stores, according to the company.

Diane Ray of Victoria said she recently encountered a closed exit gate at a Walmart in Nanaimo, B.C.

Ray said she paid for her items at self-checkout, and then bought one final item at the store’s pharmacy. She says when she tried to leave, an employee at the gate stood in her way.

“I was on the scooter. I couldn’t just get up and walk past her,” said Ray, who uses a mobility scooter. “And the gate was still closed, so it meant I wasn’t going anywhere.”

Diane Ray sits on her mobility scooter.
Diane Ray of Victoria says she was angry after she was blocked from exiting Walmart on her scooter until she showed her receipts and answered questions about where she bought her items in the store. (Submitted by Stephen Ray)

Ray said the employee demanded to see her receipts and peppered her with questions about her purchases.

“I hadn’t done anything wrong,” said Ray. “I felt humiliated, angry — I was angry and I felt like I was being treated unfairly, unjustly,”

She said the employee eventually returned her receipts and let her leave. Ray’s husband, Stephen, said he complained at the store’s customer service desk, but nothing ever came of it.

Walmart responds

Walmart spokesperson Sarah Kennedy told CBC News in an email that the company is “committed to providing a safe and inclusive environment,” and is looking into Ray’s case.

Kennedy added that Walmart’s gates have been installed “over time” to “help manage the directional flow of customers into and out of our stores.”

Lawyer and consumer rights advocate Daniel Tsai says retailers can’t prevent shoppers from leaving a store — unless they have evidence of wrongdoing.

“If you’re blocked from leaving and you haven’t done anything wrong, that indicates that they’ve engaged in potential false imprisonment, and that opens them up to a lawsuit,” said Tsai, who is based in Toronto.

He added that locking the wheels of a shopping cart could be deemed false imprisonment if a shopper felt trapped when their cart stopped moving.

“The key consideration here is the psychology of the individual,” he said. “So if the cart locks up, that [could give] them the impression, probably quite reasonably so, that they can’t leave.”

The Retail Council of Canada (RCC) says theft-prevention measures benefit shoppers, because when retailers lose money due to crime, they raise prices.

‘”Theft costs Canadian retailers billions of dollars a year, costs that are passed on to you and I as consumers when we go shopping,” said RCC spokesperson Michelle Wasylyshen in an email.

But Tsai said if a retailer’s anti-theft tactics anger customers, they risk losing business.



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More TTC riders have full cellular service as Rogers allows BCE, Telus network access



TTC riders in Toronto’s downtown core now have access to 5G service.

In a Monday media release, representatives for Rogers said customers of all major Canadian wireless companies can connect to 5G to talk, text, and stream on Toronto’s subway system.

Service extends to all stations and tunnels in the downtown U (between Bloor-Yonge and Spadina, as well as Dupont Station), as well as in 13 stations between Keele and Castle Frank, plus the tunnels between St. George and Yonge stations.

The announcement comes a day earlier than anticipated, as the federal deadline given to Rogers to implement the extended service for all mobile customers was originally slated for Tuesday.


Rogers customers have had 5G connection in the aforementioned stations and tunnels since August, a decision that sparked ire in the telecommunications space, particularly from rivals Telus and Bell.

“Our dedicated team of technologists designed and introduced an immediate solution that added capacity, so Bell and Telus could join the network,” Ron McKenzie, chief technology and information officer for Rogers, said.

“For over 10 years, subway riders have been without mobile phone services and the Rogers team is pleased to step up and make 5G a reality for all riders today.”

In a statement shared with CP24, representatives for Telus said, “we are pleased to launch service for all our customers in connected TTC subway tunnels and stations. Now, TELUS customers can browse the Internet, talk and text, staying connected and safe on Toronto transit. We’ll be working hard to expand the number of stations and tunnels covered in the coming months.”

“We would like to thank Minister Champagne for his leadership in ensuring that all wireless carriers have the ability to serve their customers in Toronto’s subway system, and that Rogers can no longer delay the deployment of wireless service for all TTC riders regardless of their choice of carrier,” representatives for Bell shared in an afternoon statement.

“Bell looks forward to working collaboratively with our partners to build out the remainder of the TTC’s wireless network.”

Toronto Mayor Olivia Chow responded to today’s news in a tweet.

“Happy to hear that all 3 major telecoms have unrolled service to downtown stations,” she wrote.

“The work continues to expand service to the rest of the TTC subway system. François-Philippe Champagne and I will work to make sure it happens quickly.”

CP24 and CTV News Toronto are owned by Bell Media.


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Laurentian Bank CEO ousted as systems crash sparks major shakeup



TORONTO — A week after a system crash blacked out much of the services offered by Laurentian Bank (TSX:LB), the financial institution announced on Monday the departures of president and CEO Rania Llewellyn and board of directors chair Michael Mueller.


The bank said Monday that Eric Provost, most recently head of personal and commercial banking, has moved into the role of president and chief executive with immediate effect.

Provost replaces Llewellyn, who became the first woman to lead a major Canadian bank when she took on the role three years ago.



Montreal-based Laurentian also said director Michael Boychuk has been appointed chair of its board of directors, replacing Mueller, who resigned from the board.


The bank said on Monday that it had restored most services, but that access might still be slow or intermittent because of the number of people trying to access services. It said it was also still working to restore some functions.


In a letter to customers, Provost said the bank would be reversing monthly service fees for September, and opening some branches on Monday despite the statutory federal holiday as the bank tries to resolve the issues.


“We understand how precious your trust is, and we recognize that we have not delivered on it,” said Provost in the letter.


“My sincerest apologies for the inconvenience this outage may have caused you, your family, and your company.”


The bank said it would also work with clients who may have missed payments because of the outage, including help if someone’s credit score was affected because they couldn’t access their money.


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Fraud trial for CEO of collapsed crypto exchange FTX set to begin on Tuesday



Sam Bankman Fried looks at the camera while being ushered out of court.
The trial of Sam Bankman-Fried, the founder of the failed cryptocurrency brokerage FTX, is set to begin in New York City this week. And while testimony is likely to veer into complex and murky topics, prosecutors are expected to try to boil their case down into simple terms for the jury: he took billions from customers and used it in ways he wasn’t supposed to. (Stephanie Keith/Bloomberg)

For a while, Sam Bankman-Fried tried to convince politicians and the public that he was the next J.P. Morgan. Now, he has to convince a jury that he wasn’t, in reality, the next Bernie Madoff.

The trial of Bankman-Fried, the founder of the failed cryptocurrency brokerage FTX, will begin Tuesday with jury selection. Prosecutors from the Southern District of New York are expected to lay out a case against Bankman-Fried that alleges he stole billions of dollars in FTX customer deposits and used the money to fund his hedge fund, buy real estate, and make millions of dollars of illegal campaign donations to Democrats and Republicans in an attempt to buy influence over cryptocurrency regulation in Washington.

While the case will involve the complicated world of cryptocurrencies, prosecutors are expected to try to boil it down to the simplest of terms for jurors: Bankman-Fried took money from customers and used it in ways he wasn’t supposed to.

“Prosecutors are going to say, ‘look at where the money went and how it was spent,'” said Michael Zweiback, co-founder of the law firm Zweiback, Fiset & Zalduendo LLP, and a former federal prosecutor. “This case is less about the complicated investments and all about garden-variety fraud.”


From humble beginnings to having billions on paper

Before FTX collapsed and filed for bankruptcy last November, Bankman-Fried was one of the most powerful people in the cryptocurrency industry. “SBF” had an estimated net worth of $32 billion US last year, at least on paper. He interacted with former presidents, politicians on both sides of the aisle, celebrities, and CEOs. When smaller crypto firms started imploding in early 2022, Bankman-Fried told the public he would help prop up the market, prompting the comparisons with J.P. Morgan.

The 31-year-old Bankman-Fried founded FTX in 2019, and it grew rapidly. The son of Stanford University professors, who was known to play the video game League of Legends during meetings, Bankman-Fried attracted investments from the highest echelons of Silicon Valley. FTX quickly became the second-largest crypto brokerage behind Binance.

Bankman-Fried and his inner circle of executives ran their then-growing crypto empire from The Bahamas, out of the luxury apartment complex Albany, where celebrities like Tiger Woods and Justin Timberlake have vacation homes.

FTX had effectively two lines of business: a brokerage where customers could deposit, buy, and sell cryptocurrency assets on the FTX platform, and an affiliated hedge fund known as Alameda Research, which took highly speculative positions in various cryptocurrency investments.

As Alameda started to pile up losses during last year’s cryptocurrency market declines, prosecutors allege Bankman-Fried directed funds to be moved from FTX’s customer accounts to Alameda to plug holes in the hedge fund’s balance sheet.

FTX founder charged with multiple financial crimes

The U.S. government has charged Samuel Bankman-Fried, the founder of now-defunct cryptocurrency exchange FTX, with a host of financial crimes after being arrested in the Bahamas. He faces decades in prison if convicted.

The house of cards that Bankman and his lieutenants built came crashing down in early November, when reports surfaced about the condition of Alameda’s balance sheet. Spooked investors, who had already seen several crypto firms collapse during the year, quickly pulled their money out of FTX and within days the firm was bankrupt.

John Ray III, the restructuring expert who was tasked with cleaning up FTX in bankruptcy, described the conditions inside of FTX as worse than Enron, long considered the benchmark for corporate malfeasance in popular culture.
Bankman-Fried is expected come face-to-face with his former lieutenants at FTX for the first time since its collapse.

Several of them have agreed to plead guilty to lesser crimes in exchange for testifying against him. This includes Caroline Ellison, who was the CEO of Alameda and Bankman-Fried’s off-and-on girlfriend, as well as FTX co-founder Gary Wang.

Ryan Salame, another top executive at FTX, pleaded guilty on Sept. 7 to making illegal campaign contributions to Republicans on behalf of Bankman-Fried, who was publicly making contributions to Democrats. It is not known whether Salame will testify against Bankman-Fried.

Ellison is expected to be the prosecution’s central witness. Prosecutors are likely to count on her to demonstrate that the collapse of FTX was not due to a few mistakes, as Bankman-Fried alleges, but to fraud. She has previously said in a statement through her lawyers that she knew funnelling FTX customers’ money into Alameda was wrong.

A grey-haired man wearing a blue pin-striped suit and red tie crosses his arms and leans toward a microphone set up in front of a place marker reading 'Mr. Ray.'
John J. Ray III was named CEO of FTX last year and has been tasked with recovering client funds at the collapsed firm. (Nathan Howard/Getty Images)

“I expect the government is going to be able to show that Bankman-Fried knew what he was doing was wrong, and here are the people in the room who can corroborate that story,” said Christine Adams, a former federal prosecutor and a partner at Adams, Duerk & Kamenstein.

The defence is expected to argue that while Bankman-Fried made some mistakes, the mistakes do not amount to fraud and FTX was just the latest casualty in the broad collapse of the cryptocurrency market last year. Until he had his computer privileges taken away by the presiding judge in the case, Bankman-Fried himself spent months reaching out to reporters and posting on social media to explain his actions.

“Look, I screwed up,” he said in a remote interview with The New York Times’ Andrew Ross Sorkin late last year.
Bankman-Fried was extradited from The Bahamas to New York in December.

Before his bail was revoked, Bankman-Fried had been permitted to live with his parents in their Palo Alto, Calif., home with strict rules limiting his access to electronic devices. Bankman-Fried was ordered to be jailed after Judge Lewis A. Kaplan said there was probable cause to believe he was trying to tamper with potential witnesses, including Ellison, in the case.

Crypto winter underway

Broadly, the crypto industry has still not recovered since FTX’s collapse. The prices of Ethereum and Bitcoin, the two most widely used cryptocurrencies, are still down two-thirds from where they were a year ago and the volume of trading in crypto is half what it was. The market for NFTs, artificially scarce digital objects meant to create unique digital versions of memorabilia or photographs, has all but evaporated. Roughly 3,000 NFTs trade hands daily now, compared to more than 40,000 a day a year ago, according to

Even Bankman-Fried’s former competitors are facing their own legal scrutiny. This summer the Securities and Exchange Commission brought charges against Binance and its founder Changpeng Zhao similar to the allegations against FTX, including commingling of customer funds with the firm’s investments. Coinbase, the publicly traded crypto exchange, has also been charged by the SEC with securities violations.


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