A young, up-and-coming Airman stops by the Luke Air Force Base Exchange to pick up weekly necessities. While browsing through the store, the Airman stops to admire the assortment of CDs. With money tight, the Airman decides to slip one into a pocket while no one else is around. What the Airman may not realize is that the Exchange is equipped with closed circuit televisions with DVR technology and high-tech Electronic Article Surveillance. As a result, the Airmen is apprehended by Exchange Loss Prevention professionals and turned over to the security forces.
With one split-second, poor decision, this young Airman’s promising career took a drastic turn. The consequences of being caught shoplifting for active-duty members can include a reduction in rank, an other than honorable discharge, forfeiture of pay and allowances and possible confinement. In addition to possible disciplinary action and/or criminal prosecution, the Federal Claims Collection Act allows the Exchange 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.
“The bottom line is that it’s just not worth it,” said Pete Alaniz, Luke AFB Exchange general manager. “Throwing away your future to try and save a few bucks is a tremendous price to pay.”
In addition to the repercussions to individuals that shoplift, the military community as a whole suffers as a result of those stealing from the Exchange. With a dual mission to provide quality goods and services at competitively low prices and generate earnings to support morale, welfare and recreation programs for its shareholders, the Exchange has contributed more than $2.4 billion to military quality of life programs in the past 10 years.
“Shoplifting at the Luke Exchange results in a reduced return on investment to our primary shareholders — the military community,” Alaniz said. “Because the Exchange is a command with a mission to return earnings to quality of life programs, people who steal from the Exchange don’t only harm themselves but negatively impact FMWRC and service programs.”
As the result of an aggressive shoplifting deterrence program, the Luke Exchange saw shoplifting cases decrease by 14 percent from 42 in 2011 to 36. However, the value of merchandise involved in these incidents increased from $1,483.86 to $4,620.03 in 2012.
While no dollar amount can be placed on the human cost of a career lost by one poor decision, it is the Exchange’s hope that educating shoppers on the safeguards in place and the results for those caught shoplifting will result in fewer incidences and, in turn, fewer careers derailed by a moment of poor judgment.