Kamloops record store going cashless after nearby robberies

Barnacle Records doesn't want your cash (for now).

Since Jan. 11 there've been four robberies in downtown Kamloops — all within a couple hundred metres of each other — leading the record store to take a unique security measure.

In a social media post last week, the owners of the store announced they would be going cashless for now, until the issue is resolved. That was after three robberies, one at Whispers and two at Moviemart, both just down the street from Barnacle. On Monday (Jan. 27), the McCleaners laundromat was robbed by a man with a knife and hammer.

While police can't confirm if the crimes are linked, Ronan McGrath, who owns and operates Barnacle with his wife Jessie, believes they're connected, and while that risk is ongoing the shop isn't carrying any hard cash.

"This is just an intuitive and emotional reaction to what feels like an unsecure moment of time," he says. "We're going to keep on with that until it isn't as much a clear and present threat."

Being that Barnacle Records is a family-run business with two shopkeepers, he says part of the concern is the fallout that a robbery would have on them.

"This (business) is an extension of our family, so the impact of a robbery would perhaps be felt more deeply," he says.

The decision to go cashless was also informed by the fact the shop is similar in some ways to those already hit: a quiet place, a single employee, not a lot of customers in at once.

While they've considered other options, McGrath says this made the most sense. Safes are expensive and a potential robber could force a shopkeeper to open it, he notes, and using violence himself, as some online commenters suggested, isn't a step he's willing to take. He adds it could have repercussions as well.

"You could scare off a thief with a weapon but there's nothing stopping them coming back wanting to reclaim their dominance over you with a bigger weapon," McGrath tells KamloopsMatters.

In an email sent to the downtown business community on Monday, Kamloops Central Business Improvement Association executive director Carl DeSantis reminded people that no one has been injured in the incidents and offered advice on how shops can mitigate the risk, including carrying smaller cash floats.

"Know that the RCMP are actively investigating these incidents," he writes. "I have every confidence the RCMP will successfully identify this offender."

McGrath says while some people may not come to Barnacle because of the cashless stance, he thinks it's more likely people aren't going to come downtown out of fear of getting involved in an incident.

"If there's any loss of sales, it would be people worried about getting themselves caught up in a robbery shopping downtown," he says. "I think that it's not that it's an unsafe place to be — these are very opportunistic robberies that seem to be happening in places that tend to be empty."

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