DALLAS (Army and Air Force Exchange Service Public Affairs)
-- Despite upgraded camera systems with DVR capability,
educational campaigns focused on the consequences of stealing and a
2002 amendment allowing federal retailers to pursue losses and
administrative costs related to shoplifting, thefts at Post Exchanges
(PX) and Base Exchanges (BX, Air Force) rose last year, from 7,542
incidents in 2006 to 7,635 in 2007, according to Army and Air Force
Exchange Service (AAFES) records. AAFES facilities are open only to
authorized military patrons.
Fort McCoy AAFES personnel use
video surveillance equipment to monitor the Post Exchange
(Photo by Rob Schuette)
While occurrences were up barely one percent, the average cost
of products in detected cases went up AAFES-wide more than 8 percent,
from $119 per incident in 2006 to $129 in 2007. Shoplifters focusing
on designer purses and perfumes, name-brand electronics and other
high-end items created increased costs for the military community as
the amount of merchandise involved went up nearly 10 percent, from
$898,851 in 2006 to $985,244.
With a dual mission to provide quality goods and services at
competitively low prices and generate earnings to support Morale,
Welfare and Recreation (MWR) programs, AAFES, which has contributed
more than $2.4 billion to military quality-of-life programs in the
past 10 years, continues to focus its efforts on reducing theft.
"Shoplifting at the exchange results in a reduced return
on investment to our primary shareholders -- the military
community," said AAFES' Vice President of Loss Prevention Gerald
Danish. "Because AAFES is a command with a mission to return
earnings to MWR activities, shoplifting at the BX or PX is essentially
the same as taking money directly from the pockets of the military
families exchanges serve."
In an effort to protect the MWR dividend AAFES provides
annually and further reduce shoplifting incidents, Loss Prevention
associates are stepping up education efforts to help highlight the
cost and perils of stealing through local anti-shoplifting
AAFES also is testing intelligent video analysis solutions that
are expected to further reduce losses. Capable of alerting personnel
to crucial incidents as they happen, the new systems will allow store
personnel to intervene before merchandise even leaves the store.
In addition to these measures, AAFES Loss Prevention teams
continue to proactively identify store display areas that tend to have
high theft rates.
"No one likes catching shoplifters," said Danish.
"In fact, one of our major objectives is to deter shoplifting
before it ever happens by educating shoppers of all ages on the
exchanges' ability to monitor and record activity throughout the
store. It's our hope that individuals who might be considering theft
will see the security measures, think twice and make the right
decision for their family and career."
If shoplifting is suspected, AAFES Loss Prevention associates
turn the issue over to local law enforcement.
In addition to possible disciplinary action and/or criminal
prosecution, the Federal Claims Collection Act, which began March 1,
2002, allows AAFES to enact a flat, administrative cost (Civil
Recovery) of $200.
There may be further fees, in addition to the Civil Recovery
Program, depending on the condition of the stolen merchandise.
Ralph Kleemann, Fort McCoy AAFES general manager, said Fort
McCoy has an active loss-prevention program, including video
surveillance, in place.
Anyone noting suspicious activity or potential theft in the
Fort McCoy Main Exchange or other AAFES facilities should notify the
on-duty AAFES manager.
The Fort McCoy Garrison Command also takes this issue very
seriously and is in complete support of the AAFES program.
They will pursue remedies, including legal action, when
necessary, Kleemann said.
Maj. Blaine A. Markuson, an attorney with the Fort McCoy
Installation Legal Office, said Soldiers or other military personnel
who are caught shoplifting are subject to punishment under the Uniform
Code of Military Justice (UCMJ). That includes active-duty personnel,
mobilizing and demobilizing Soldiers, as well as military personnel at
Fort McCoy for battle assembly or extended combat training, he said.
Under the UCMJ, the unit commander, working in conjunction with
the unit's judge advocate, determines the nature of the punishment.
Markuson said some of the options include a letter of reprimand to be
placed in the Soldiers Official Military Personnel File, Article 15
proceedings and even a possible court-martial.
If the alleged perpetrator is a military dependent or a retiree
who is not subject to the UCMJ, they may receive a letter revoking
their exchange privileges, as well as running the risk of being barred
from Fort McCoy for a limited period of time.
Additionally, these personnel will be issued a citation to
appear in federal magistrate court and will be prosecuted by the U.S.
Attorneys Office for the Western District of Wisconsin, Markuson said.
For more information about the legal process, call the Fort
McCoy Installation Legal Office at (608) 388-2165.