Base Exchange sees increase in theft

TINKER AIR FORCE BASE -- Theft at the Tinker Air Force Base Exchange has doubled in the last five months. Fifty-nine theft incidents have been reported from Feb. 2007 to July 2007, compared to just 29 during the same time period last year.
   "We suspect the increase is due to rotations," said Edna Kite, Tinker Base Exchange loss prevention manager.
   Ms. Kite said Airmen and their dependents seem to feel like they are not being watched since no one knows them at their new duty station. She also said she thinks the stress of the move plays a part in the decision to steal.
   Despite the motivation, the number of shoplifters has continued to rise. Theft rose 12 percent last year and is expected to double this year, bringing the number of yearly shoplifters to 200 as opposed to 91 in 2006.
   "Many people are surprised that we have shoplifting on military bases, since the military members are respected with high integrity," said BX's General Manager Flishia Bailey.
   Ms. Kite estimated that 90 percent of shoplifters are military dependents. 
   Ms. Bailey said since the BX's mission is to provide earnings for Morale, Welfare and Recreation activates, shoplifting is like taking money directly out of the pockets of their own families.
   The BX has an intricate camera surveillance system manned by detectives monitoring areas that offer small, high value items like electronics, sporting goods and cosmetics. The system now has digital video recording capability, enabling the system to review more than 100 hours of recording on all cameras.
   The DVR system allows loss prevention specialists to track the habits of thieves, so if you aren't caught the first time, employees will pay special attention to your visit the second time.
   The Base Exchange manager hopes the severe punishment of shoplifting is enough to deter thieves.
   If suspected of shoplifting, violators will be reported to security forces. Security forces then sends adult thieves to the Federal Magistrate Court in downtown Oklahoma City. If more than $500 in merchandise is stolen, the offender can be charged with a felony. Thieves will also be responsible for court fees as well as a $200 civil recovery fee. Shoplifters will also loose their privileges at the BX and commissary for one year.
   Youth offenders under 16 will be sent to the Juvenile Detention Center in Oklahoma City or referred to the base Juvenile Assistance Council.
   Active duty military are subject to disciplinary action by their commander which can range from non-judicial proceedings (Article 15) to a court martial.