Exchange, JRB spread shoplifting awareness

| March 9, 2012 | 0 Comments
 Paul Russell (center), Exchange Safety and Security, and students from Wheeler Middle School watch a mock  shoplifting scenario unfold during the Exchange and JRB’s shoplifting awareness and prevention program, March 2.

Paul Russell (center), Exchange Safety and Security, and students from Wheeler Middle School watch a mock shoplifting scenario unfold during the Exchange and JRB’s shoplifting awareness and prevention program, March 2.

Story and Photo by
Vanessa Lynch
News Editor

SCHOFIELD BARRACKS — The Exchange facility, here, continues to deal steadily with individuals who are stealing from their stores.

Stealing from the Exchange is essentially stealing from programs within the Army community.

To combat this growing problem on base, the Army and Air Force Exchange Service, here, teamed up with U.S. Army Garrison-Hawaii’s Juvenile Review Board for a shoplifting awareness and prevention program to decrease shoplifting, March 2.

“The goal of this program is to spread community awareness of the impact and consequences of shoplifting and how it impacts the quality of life on a military base,” said Floyd Wynn, general manager, Exchange-Hawaii.

Exchanges worldwide return roughly two-thirds of yearly earnings back into the community. In the past 10 years, the Exchange has contributed more than $2.4 billion to quality of life programs on military installations.

“We want to help (youth) make the right decisions,” said Brian Johnson, area loss prevention manager, Exchange-Hawaii. “I know firsthand how peer pressure effects the decision-making process.”

When a shoplifter is a minor, he or she may be required to sit before the JRB, which is comprised of professionals from USAG-HI community services, directorates and other organizations, all coming together to help youngsters.

The JRB is a strong advocate in setting wayward Army youth in Hawaii straight.

“The JRB is not set up to punish people,” said Command Sgt. Maj. Robert Williamson III, senior enlisted leader, USAG-HI, and president, JRB.

Addressing Wheeler Middle School students, Williamson said, “We try to help (youth) and figure out why they have gotten into trouble.”

During the March 2 awareness program, 55 students from Wheeler Middle School were taken into the Exchange’s surveillance room to witness a mock shoplifting scenario. Loss prevention personnel explained to them what happens once a person leaves the store with unpaid merchandise.

“It doesn’t matter how much or how little the item costs. Stealing is stealing,” said Paul Russell, Exchange Safety and Security. “Once a person leaves the store, they are brought back to this room. No exceptions and no negotiations will be made. We call the MPs, and if the person is a minor, we call his or her parents — no matter what.”

Whether a person steals a piece of candy, a page out of a magazine, or fills his or her free water cup with soda from the Food Court’s soda fountain, the person will pay for the items and a $200 administration fee. The person could also face additional consequences.

“If you are with someone who is stealing, you are considered an accessory and will be brought back here, as well,” Russell said.

Russell told the students that the Exchange has more than 100 cameras set up at multiple angles and plain-clothes security personnel on the floor at all times.

“By informing their friends and classmates of the embarrassment (caused by shoplifting), their parents’ presence at the sessions and the consequences faced, our hope, through events like this, is that these young people can certainly help deter this unnecessary crime on base,” Williamson said. “Shoplifters are hurting their own military community and bringing shame to Army families.”

Williamson explained to students what happens when shoplifters come before him and the types of punishments they can receive.

He said military identification card holders may have their Exchange privileges suspended for a minimum of one year and be barred from living on post. Family members under the age of 18 may be required to attend a JRB and perform community service, among other punishments.

“This program taught me to never shoplift or to hang out with someone who is stealing because it’s not worth it,” said Manny Sanchez, student. “Not only do you get in trouble, your parents also get in trouble.”


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