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Shoplifting, resulting costs to military community down in '08

Army and Air Force Exchange Service

Army and Air Force Exchange Service

DALLAS -- High-tech electronic article surveillance systems, eagle-eyed closed circuit television cameras and an aggressive youth shoplifting awareness campaign helped take "a bite out of crime" at Army & Air Force Exchange Service facilities last year as shoplifting cases dropped 15.7 percent, from 7,635 in 2007 to 6,437.

The value of merchandise involved in these incidents also dropped, from $985,244 to $686,000 in 2008.

"We've been working hard to identify theft-deterrent opportunities beyond just technological solutions," said AAFES' vice president of Loss Prevention Gerald Danish. "Part of this effort has been youth shoplifting awareness briefings with dependents 14 years of age or below at exchanges around the world. These outreach efforts paid off last year as incidents involving this age group dropped some 24 percent from the previous year."

AAFES, which has contributed more than $2.4 billion to Air Force Services and Army Morale, Welfare and Recreation programs in the past 10 years, continues to focus its efforts on reducing theft to maximize the investment authorized shoppers make in their exchange benefit.

"This isn't just about a stolen video game or a purse leaving the premise without someone paying," said Mr. Danish. "AAFES' mission to generate earnings in support of MWR and Services activities makes loss prevention a quality of life issue for our entire community. People who steal from the exchange do more than harm themselves; they directly impact MWR and Services' ability to complete their respective missions."

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.