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Osborne Village business gets paid for stolen items after restorative justice approach

A trio of alleged shoplifters got a chance to right their wrongs.

Verde Plant Design recently caught three people on camera stealing several items worth hundreds of dollars, but instead of calling police, the local businesses offered a different solution.

Co-owner Dominika Dratwa said she shared the security footage on social media, hoping to find out more information.

“We had several people actually come forward with names,” said Dratwa.

She said one of the shoplifters reached out to the store using an anonymous email account.

“They apologized and we gave them a resolution.”

The resolution was to pay back the $356.16 in stolen goods, which included the taxes owed.

“When you take things from a store, usually you pay for them…so I think that’s fair in my mind.”

She said the idea for this approach came from her experience as an officer in a women’s correctional facility – witnessing the impact of the criminal justice system on women and their families.

“The first thing I want to do is give someone a chance, because people make mistakes.”

On Wednesday, one of the alleged thieves came to the store and paid a delivery driver in full.

Restorative justice workers applaud the store’s approach.

“Give them that opportunity, that grace, that compassion for them to come forward and see if they can resolve it without the involvement of police,” said Jomer Ruiz, a caseworker at Mediation Services.

Experts say rather than being judgemental, community members should listen to what businesses or victims say they need.

“Support the individual and what they’re trying to achieve,” said Ross Robinson, the executive director of the John Howard Society of Brandon.

“Don’t lambaste them for trying to take a soft approach, because restorative justice is not a soft approach to crime.”

In a statement to CTV News, Zohreh Gervais, the executive director of Osborne Village BIZ, said, “We applaud the effort Verde is making to provide an alternative restorative justice solution, and likewise support all of our business members in whatever course of action they choose in such solutions.”

Gervais said the BIZ is also working with its members and the Sabe Peace Walker Group to provide the community with more support.

“I think that our community is really in a crisis and we need better solutions for dealing with these sorts of things, especially with shoplifting,” said Dratwa.

Dratwa said once she heard the person came forward with cash, she commended them, adding it was brave and took a lot of guts to make things right.

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