2013-10-04 / Viewpoint

Shoplifting at the Fort Gordon Exchange can ruin a career

Army & Air Force Exchange Service

A young, up-and-coming Solider stops by the Fort Gordon Exchange to pick up his weekly necessities. While browsing through the store, he stops to admire the assortment of wallets. With money tight, he decides to slip one into his pocket while no one else is around. What he 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 Solider is apprehended by Exchange loss prevention professionals and turned over to the military police.

With one, split-second poor decision, this young Soldier’s promising career took a drastic turn. Consequences of being caught shoplifting for active duty members can include a reduction in rank, and other than honorable discharge, forfeiture of pay and allowances and possible confinement. In addition to possible disciplinary action or also 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 the Fort Gordon Exchange’s general manager, Stefan Marks. “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 installation 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 Fort Gordon Exchange results in a reduced return on investment to our primary shareholders – the military community,” said Marks. “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 Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation, and service programs.”

Despite an aggressive shoplifting deterrence program, the Fort Gordon Exchange saw shoplifting cases increase by 6 percent, from 32 in 2011 to 34. However, the value of merchandise involved in these incidents decreased from $3,871.09 to $2,826.60 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.

About Fort Gordon Exchange

The Army & Air Force Exchange Service is a joint non-appropriated fund instrumentality of the Department of Defense and is directed by a Board of Directors which is responsible to the Secretaries of the Army and the Air Force through the Service Chiefs of Staff. The Exchange has the dual mission of providing authorized patrons with quality merchandise and services at competitively low prices and generating non-appropriated fund earnings as a supplemental source of funding for military morale, welfare and recreation programs. To find out more about the Exchange history and mission or to view recent press releases please visit our Web site at http://www.shopmyexchange.com.

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