In September 2018, there was a surge of news stories about liquor store theft in Winnipeg, Canada that resulted in public and political calls for action, and ultimately led to the introduction of a range of new security and surveillance measures at government owned liquor stores. This brief news cycle provided opportunities for various social actors, politicians, and authorities to make claims about the nature of crime and society more broadly. This article analyzes recent news media coverage of liquor store theft in Winnipeg, Canada and the social construction of an ostensibly new crime trend in the city: “brazen” liquor store thefts. We employ a qualitative content analysis of news articles about liquor store theft published in local Winnipeg news media between 2018 and 2020 (n = 147). Drawing on the social constructionist paradigm, and Fishman’s conceptualization of “crime waves,” we argue that the framing of liquor theft via news media reflects longstanding cultural tropes and myths about crime, as well as hinting at but never fully confronting, deeply engrained colonial and racialized stereotypes. This paper contributes to our understanding of the ways putative social problems are made intelligible in the media. We demonstrate how “crime waves” are shaped by and shape dominant tropes about crime, safety, and citizenship. We argue that something as mundane as liquor theft reveals much about the historical, colonial and social roots of crime in local and national contexts.