EDMONTON -- A major Alberta liquor retailer is adopting a home-grown strategy to track stolen bottles in an effort to combat the theft of booze.

The Edmonton Police Service and Alcanna chose MacEwan University’s Social Innovation Institute’s concept from 222 global entries in the Liquor Store Theft Challenge.  

The winner of the challenge was announced from MacEwan University’s Allard Hall Tuesday.

In an effort to find new ways to fight liquor thefts, EPS and Alcanna asked innovators from around the world to submit their ideas.

The winning team from MacEwan University came up with the idea of tracking liquor bottles from the point of sale using hidden tracking devices where select bottles will be tracked in real time to the point of potential resales.

The proposal also includes a high-profile awareness campaign as well as a whistle-blower cash reward meant to encourage restaurant employees to tip off police about stolen booze being bought and sold at their establishments.

The hope is that the approach will discourage restaurants, bars and nightclubs from trading stolen alcohol and give liquor thieves fewer reasons to steal.

Alcanna contributed $500,000 for the challenge.

“The MacEwan submission was the best at identifying the root cause of the theft and robbery escalation,” said Alcanna CEO James Burns in a written statement.

“We’re excited to test a home-grown concept,” said Ashif Mawji, Chair of the Edmonton Police Foundation.  

Last year, Edmonton police responded to more than 9,500 liquor theft complaints.

“Liquor thefts in Edmonton and in cities across Canada continue to place immense pressures on police resources and their respective societies,” EPS Chief Dale McFee said.

“We’re thrilled that a submission from an Edmonton university has been selected to help find a solution to easing the burdens caused by this crime on our communities."

The concept will undergo field trials before the MacEwan team can officially be declared the winners.

The MacEwan team was awarded $25,000 by Alcanna for its winning submission.

“MacEwan University is honored to be awarded the opportunity to partner with Alcanna and the Edmonton Police to address this critical issue in our city,” said Dr. Wanda M. Costen, the dean and professor of the school of business at MacEwan University.