In the last three semesters, the number of shoplifting cases from the BYU-Idaho University Store has tripled, and the store is updating its policies accordingly.
They want to focus more on customer service and have updated their current camera system, leading to more eyes on the floor.
“Ultimately, this isn’t a negative thing,” said Ryan Buttars, the University Store director. “We’re doing it to help these people. Sometimes a consequence is what you need in order to make a good change in your life. I just hope that you’re not throwing too much away to learn that lesson.”
The University Store discovers evidence of shoplifting each week, including ripped off tags in dressing rooms, boxes with items taken out and abnormalities in cycle counts.
“Eventually you’re going to get caught,” Buttars said. “We’ve got training that will cover most of those things. People will steal things in crazy ways, and we’ve been informed in those ways.”
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Buttars said college is not the time to go through life with guilt on your back. It is a time of discovering who you are, not lugging around unnecessary guilt.
The new camera views make it possible to follow a person throughout the entire store as well as a higher quality video for easier identification.
They also have changed their shoplifting policies. In the past, when the University Store caught shoplifters, they usually didn’t press charges. From now on, every shoplifter caught will be prosecuted.
The new staff training focuses on customer engagement and there will be dedicated customer service representatives monitoring the floor, as well as full-time surveillance camera monitors.
“The best way you can help us is if you know something, say something to us, and we will deal with it, and we will help that individual,” Buttars said.
Buttars said they don’t want anyone to become undercover police attempting to detain shoplifters. The best thing to do is to talk to the cashiers if students see something suspicious.
When Buttars catches a shoplifter and takes a look at what they’ve taken, it is often an inexpensive item. It is usually one or two smaller items, and if the shoplifter would wait a week, they could probably afford them.
He said that it is important for shoplifters to face the consequence and learn an eternal perspective.
“You may be one of those lucky individuals that get away with it today, and no one else finds out about it,” Buttars said. “But ultimately… you’ll know your whole life. You’ll know about those $19.99 earbuds for a long time.”
Butters said BYU-I students are great, but it is just a few who participate in shoplifting.
“We’re probably a little bit too trusting,” Buttars said. “We think that this type of thing wouldn’t happen here, but unfortunately it does.”