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Shoplifting not absent to Hill

In the Western Army and Air Force Exchange Service region, there were 1,994 shoplifting cases and 344 of those were committed by employees. (U.S. Air Force photo illustration by Senior Airman Clay Murray)

In the Western Army and Air Force Exchange Service region, there were 1,994 shoplifting cases and 344 of those were committed by employees. (U.S. Air Force photo illustration by Senior Airman Clay Murray)

Employees of the loss prevention department in the Hill Air Force Base Base Exchange keep a lookout for shoplifting with help from the facility surveillance system. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Clay Murray)

Employees of the loss prevention department in the Hill Air Force Base Base Exchange keep a lookout for shoplifting with help from the facility surveillance system. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Clay Murray)

HILL AIR FORCE BASE, Utah -- It's a problem that retail stores across the globe have struggled with for years. On Hill Air Force Base, the Base Exchange is certainly no exception.

Shoplifting is a crime with rates that can be anything but predictable. Foretelling the activity of shoplifters can be hard to do.

"The most common times during the year for shoplifting are during the holidays and when the kids are going back to school," said Liz Hyde, BX loss prevention employee for the past 8 1/2 years. "The rest of the year can be a shot in the dark."

Big time heists are not the only things considered to be shoplifting. According to Danny Ross, BX loss prevention manager, taking anything without paying is prosecutable.

"Stealing anything of monetary value to the Army and Air Force Exchange Service is prosecutable," said Mr. Ross. "That includes everything from taking soda without paying to taking a CD."

In efforts to discourage shoplifting, the BX has installed different deterrents. Around the facility, black domes hide surveillance cameras which are part of an integrated system to catch shoplifters. There are also locked cases for items of higher value such as cameras or computer products.

In the event that surveillance does catch a shoplifter, employees approach the individual and turn them over to the 75th Security Forces Squadron.

"From there, the security forces members take statements from the suspect and evidence from the loss prevention personnel," said Mr. Ross. "Security forces then contact the judge advocate office, and they determine what prosecution actions will be taken. If the suspect is prosecuted, the base judge advocate represents AAFES in federal court.

When an employee is caught for shoplifting the process works the same way. However, an employee promisary note is also thrown into the mix that guarantees the employee will reimburse AAFES for losses.

Employees don't quite account for nearly as many shoplifting cases as day-to-day customers, but they still contribute to company losses. During the 2007 fiscal year there were 344 employee theft cases in the AAFES Western region. In total, there were just shy of 2,000 cases.