Bookstore shoplifting penalties can differ

By Fatima Carrasco, Advocate Staff

Throughout the influx of new vendors and places to find food on campus, there has always been one place students could reliably turn to when everything else was defined by uncertainty.

Even as the semester winds down, the Bookstore remains open for the convenience of the students.

However, like in any business there is theft and like in the real-world, offenders are not always brought to justice despite changes that are made to better protect property.

“We do our usual inventory throughout the year and we usually find small discrepancies here and there,” Bookstore Operations Coordinator Darris Crear said.

Every day, students come and go to buy a pencil a bag of chips or whatever they need. Unfortunately, however, other students rather than seeking monetary help with school necessities take what is not theirs without considering the consequences.

Crear said, “When we catch someone on the spot, we make it clear that they are jeopardizing their future academic stance here — because the dean of students (Dennis Franco) could expel them.”

According to Crear, when a student is found stealing, they will be approached.

However, if they suspect a student to be stealing and nothing is done in the moment, they will examine security footage to ensure that in fact it was a theft.

If an infraction is discovered, the offender is reported to Police Services and to the dean of students.

Police Services Lt. Thomas Holt said there are several variables that could come into play as to how they handle the case if it is a misdemeanor.

Misdemeanor thefts involve items stolen under $950 in worth.

“Since it is most likely going to be a misdemeanor not committed in our presence, if we made an arrest it would most likely be a citizen’s arrest,” Lt. Holt said. “If the arrested person went to court and was found guilty, they could get up to six months in jail and or up to a $1,000 fine.”

According to Crear, Police Services will usually contact the student and will do so quickly to recover the item if possible. On the other hand, if something is consumable or damaged, the student may have to reimburse the value of the item. In those cases, the incident will still be reported to the dean of students.

Franco said, “The consequence largely depends on the student, their past history and on their attitude when they come in. Do they come here cursing and denying what they did, or do they admit to their mistake?”

Franco understands every case is different because not every student reacts the same.

The way the conversation goes will be directly reflected in the consequences rendered.

“The monetary value of the item does influence the consequence. However, I do not have a chart that says if they steal this then this happens or if they steal that then that happens — it’s hard to say. That’s a challenge because there is no single approach for a single offense.”

Crear recognizes that because the campus is small and there are few options to buy food, people who come into the Bookstore are often frequent customers.