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Corner Store changes policy

Christopher johnson, News Writer
November 7, 2013
Filed under News

Recent suspicious activities in UW-Green Bay’s Corner Store have led management to implement policies aimed at eliminating the potential for retail theft. All customers are now required to remove their backpacks and jackets prior to entering the store, said Patrick Niles, Food Services Director for A’viands who runs the Corner Store on campus.

“We’ve had some suspicions from our student cashiers that there’s been some shoplifting going on,” Niles said. “They thought they witnessed somebody sticking things in their backpack from the mirrors we have in the store, so we’ve elected to implement this policy to stop that from happening and to remove any temptation somebody might have to stick something in their pack, whether it’s deliberate or not.”

While there haven’t been any arrests or citations issued with these recent incidents, Niles said it was time for A’viands to use caution and make the change.

“We’ve actually had some people that we caught in the Marketplace in the Leona Cloud Commons,” Niles said. “but we haven’t had any citations issued or made reports to the Public Safety Office here on campus regarding the Corner Store.”

Removing backpacks prior to entering is nothing new for the Phoenix Bookstore, said store manager Patrick Sorelle.

“For us the policy simply eliminates the opportunity for the small percentage of students who would prefer to not pay for their merchandise,” Sorelle said. “Retail theft is a concern. It hasn’t gone away, so we strive to eliminate the opportunity and the temptation to not pay for something.”

There are generally a few shoplifters apprehended per semester, Sorelle said, and additional staff is typically brought in to help during busy times of the semester.

“We have additional staff, and we also have an individual who is a former captain with the Green Bay Police Department who helps out and gives recommendations on how to improve security,” said Sorelle. “Not that we’ve had this happen, but something as simple as taking the ‘used’ sticker off a book and placing it on a new book and attempting to purchase it becomes an issue of fraud, which is just as serious as retail theft. Don’t do it. It’s just not a good idea.”

Lt. Jeff Gross of UWGB’s Public Safety Department said there’s probably a lot more retail theft going on than what’s being reported. “Percentage-wise, the estimates we’ve heard is 10-15 percent of sales could be related to theft or shrinkage,” Gross said. “I would hope that

we’re different. We have a good student body and we very rarely have an incident on campus, maybe two or three incidents per year.”

The Public Safety Office has conducted some training with the Bookstore, Gross said, and more may be coming in the near future to include the Union and other areas of campus.

“We may do some proactive training about what to look for,” Gross said. “how to handle it, how to intervene and when to get us involved.”

The fine for stealing one item valued up to $100 is $295, Gross said, and the fine for stealing one item valued at more than $100 is $421.

But receiving a fine for retail theft would only be the beginning of the problems facing the offender, particularly if it is a UWGB student.

In addition to receiving the penalties and fines as outlined in municipal ordinances and state statutes, students also face added penalties as outlined within the UW System administrative code. Chapter 18, section 12, heading five of the administrative code deals specifically with the charge of retail theft. The student is referred to the Dean of Students Office where the offender and incident are thoroughly investigated to decide if the individual will be placed on probation, suspension or even expulsion.

Even at this point, the student’s problems are far from over. Now the convicted offender has a criminal theft record, regardless of how small or inconsequential the stolen item may have been. That arrest record will haunt the student for the rest of their life, particularly as that student attempts to gain employment after graduation.

“If they apply for a job, especially if it’s a cash handling job or responsibility job, employers will find that out,” Gross said, “and that usually doesn’t sit well with employers. The student would have to do a lot of explaining to understand why they made that mistake and, more importantly, why the employer should take a risk on hiring that person. It’s certainly a big hurdle that they would have to overcome.”

For the most part, students have taken the new backpack removal policy at the Corner Store in stride, said cashier Kim Lagina.

“The majority of the students here are all really good kids. Who would want to risk so much over a Little Debbie snack or a pack of gum?” Lagina said.