Shoplifting at the Warren Exchange can ruin a career

  • Published
  • By LaTisha McCray
  • Army and Air Force Exchange Service Public Affairs
A young, up-and-coming Airman stops by the F.E. Warren Air Force Base, Wyo., 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 digital video recording technology and high-tech electronic article surveillance. As a result, the Airman is apprehended and turned over to security forces.

With one, split-second poor decision, this young Airman's promising career took a drastic turn. Consequences of being caught shoplifting for active duty members can include a reduction in rank, an other-than-honorable discharge, forfeiture of pay and allowances and possible confinement. In addition to possible disciplinary action or criminal prosecution, the Federal Claims Collection Act allows the Exchange to enact a flat, administrative cost of $200 through the Civil Recovery Program. There may also be further fees depending on the condition of the stolen merchandise.

"The bottom line is that it's just not worth it," said Shane Napier, the Exchange's general manager. "Throwing away your future to try and save a few bucks is a tremendous price to pay."

The military community as a whole suffers as a result of those stealing from the Exchange, In addition to the repercussions to individuals who shoplift. 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, the Exchange has contributed more than $2.4 billion to military quality of life programs in the past 10 years.

"Shoplifting at the F.E. Warren Exchange results in a reduced return on investment to our primary shareholders - the military community," Napier said. "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 command and service programs."

While no dollar amount can be placed on the cost of losing a career because of one poor decision, it is the Exchange's hope that educating shoppers of the safeguards in place and the consequences of those caught shoplifting will result in fewer incidences of careers derailed by a moment of poor judgment.