High-tech loss prevention safeguards base exchange benefit

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With a mission of providing quality merchandise and services at competitively low prices while generating earnings to support Morale, Welfare and Recreation programs, the Army and Air Force Exchange Service is enlisting the support of the latest in loss prevention technology to protect military families' exchange benefit.

Electronic article surveillance systems, for example, are on the front lines of AAFES officials' efforts to deter shoplifting and prevent unpaid merchandise from leaving the store. 

Base Exchange and Post Exchange management, based on local conditions and experience, in conjunction with supporting loss prevention personnel, identify specific items to be "tagged" with electronic article surveillance devices. These "tags" are deactivated at the cash register when the merchandise is paid for. Manufacturers have joined other businesses by placing "tags" inside the packaging of many items to further reduce shoplifting. New "tags" have also been deployed that sound an alarm if someone attempts to remove it without the proper device.

Prior to reaching the checkout, products are monitored by advanced closed circuit television systems that can coordinate the movement of 10, 20 or even 100 unblinking "eyes in the sky." In fact, this network of strategically positioned, microprocessor-driven, closed-circuit cameras are controlled by a central console that allows loss prevention associates to pan side-to-side, tilt up and down or even zoom in closely to examine activity.

"Every loss prevention method we use has the common goal of discouraging theft before it even happens," said Gerald Danish, the AAFES vice president of loss prevention. "Of course, visible reminders like security 'tags' and camera systems not only deter criminal behavior, but also identify and document it. So, even if the equipment's presence doesn't prevent a crime, the resulting video and/or alarm are almost always invaluable in the resulting prosecution."

In the event 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.

"AAFES associates are stewards of the dividend this command is charged with generating," Mr. Danish said. "Activities that diminish exchange shoppers' return on investment can, and do, negatively impact military families' quality of life. Fortunately, our team is leveraging the latest crime fighting tools available to further strengthen the exchange benefit troops, and their families, have come to depend on." 

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