Sites like Marketplace make it easy to resell stolen batteries, drill bits and other drills from stores, say a majority of hardware store owners. Faced with this scourge, they ask governments to intervene to regulate these platforms and limit concealment.

“If it’s good for Airbnb, why can’t we also regulate the practices on Marketplace? asks the president of the Quebec Association of Hardware and Building Materials (AQMAT), Richard Darveau.

According to a survey published earlier this spring by AQMAT, 89% of hardware stores believe that resale platforms – where people who post goods can preserve a certain anonymity – “facilitate” the flow of stolen merchandise. The Association has therefore decided to take steps with the Consumer Protection Office (OPC). She also requested a meeting with representatives of the ministries of public security in both Quebec and Ottawa. Discussions could take place soon.

“There should be a system requiring users who post new merchandise to post a photo of the original invoice,” says Darveau, adding that this would be a proof that the tool was not stolen. “Sites could also include a statement saying, ‘Warning, buying stolen merchandise is illegal,'” he suggests.

One thing is certain, La Presse has seen by shopping for batteries and drills on Marketplace and Kijiji that the advertisements displaying new tools are legion and the items are often sold at a price lower than that displayed in store. In several cases, our requests to sellers to see the original invoice went unheeded. One of them, visibly stung, even suggested that we go shopping in a store. Note, however, that not all new items offered for sale on these sites have necessarily been stolen, hence the importance of making the necessary checks.

On these same platforms, Nathalie Savard, co-owner of the QTL Phy Liquid hardware store in Métabetchouan–Lac-à-la-Croix in Lac-Saint-Jean, recognized many tools that belonged to her last fall. It wasn’t her who posted them… but the person who stole them from her. His batteries were sold on the site for $150, while they cost $250 in his hardware store.

“I saw my stock going by and it wasn’t just mine, but probably that of other hardware stores at the Lac,” she says on the phone. Everything was sold new, without box. The empty packaging, her partner and she found them shortly after the theft in the aisles of the store.

“They weren’t little tools. There was a handsaw, batteries, blowers, a drill. He was robbed for some $5,000 worth of merchandise.

After clearly establishing the modus operandi of the criminal, who committed several thefts in the store, Ms. Savard and her team managed to nab him. They were even the subject of a report on the J.E. program, broadcast on TVA.

But now, for the past few weeks, in light of what she has observed online, the business owner is certain that the network that “her thief” was part of has resumed operations.

In order to protect herself, she had to invest nearly $15,000 to equip herself with a security system.

“I’m not Rio Tinto,” she illustrates, referring to the aluminum smelter, which has facilities in its region. When I have to invest or when I lose money, I’m the one who puts my head on the chopping block, I’m the one who pays. Grants, I don’t have many. »

In Montreal, at the Rona Major store

Although she did not investigate to find out where her tools went next, Pascale Prud’homme has her own idea: “It’s on Marketplace that it seems to be happening,” she says bluntly. .

To make matters worse, last week, a few minutes after La Presse went to the store, Ms. Prud’homme was the victim of two other thefts.

Ms. Prud’homme also wonders if consumers who shop on resale platforms are aware of this phenomenon. “You don’t realize it until it happens to you. Me, it sensitized me. I would not buy tools on Marketplace. »

And for the moment, the phenomenon is not likely to subside since the merchants and security system specialists interviewed all say that shoplifting is reaching peaks not seen since the pandemic. According to figures provided by AQMAT, nearly 68% of hardware store owners have noticed a strong or slight increase in thefts.

The increase in the price of products, the reduction in the number of employees due to the shortage of labor and the proliferation of self-service checkouts are partly responsible for the increase in theft, according to Mr. Bédard.

“In 35 years, I’ve never seen this,” adds Nathalie Savard. She says that before, only tubes of strong glue and nozzles disappeared. She had no idea that she would one day be stealing handsaws and batteries.