Laker Store, Campus Dining locations see theft during fall semester

GVL / Emily Frye - Christopher Stark works within the Laker Store on Wendesday, April 15, 2015.

GVL / Emily Frye – Christopher Stark works within the Laker Store on Wendesday, April 15, 2015.

Arpan Lobo

As Grand Valley State University concluded another semester, more crime statistics have been released by the GVSU Police Department.

The Laker Store has seen 21 cases of retail fraud, more commonly known as shoplifting, spanning from August to the end of December 2017. According to GVPD Acting Director Brandon DeHaan, 16 of the suspected individuals have been identified, with appropriate punitive action taken depending on the degree of shoplifting. The 21 cases signify an increase from the 10 cases that were reported by the Grand Valley Lanthorn in November of 2016. 

The Laker Store does have a set of security cameras used to deter individuals from stealing. Laker Store employees are told to keep an eye out for any potential theft, and one worker noted that employees are told to keep an eye on individuals with backpacks. It is worth noting, however, that during the academic semester most students bring their backpacks with them wherever they go, meaning that the use of security cameras is more effective at identifying responsible individuals. 

GVPD uses the footage from the security feeds to identify individuals responsible for retail fraud. According to DeHaan, social media has been a useful tool in identifying potential suspects. 

“What we’ve been doing is placing images of individuals that we identify as a person of interest surrounding these retail frauds on social media,” DeHaan said. “Once that information goes on social media, our community has responded. They will contact police if they have knowledge of who those individuals are.”

The majority of retail fraud that occurs at the Laker Store pertains to merchandise, such as clothing and other apparel. DeHaan added that smaller memorabilia are being stolen as well.

While the Laker Store sees the highest number of reported cases of retail fraud, other GVSU establishments, such as the Lobby Shop in the Kirkhof Center and the C-Store located in the Kleiner Commons, also see cases of shoplifting. The Lobby Shop is connected to Subway, making it easy for individuals to walk in and out of the convenience store from completely different entrances and exits.

GVPD encourages GVSU community members to not commit retail fraud on campus or anywhere else. Despite the potential belief that stealing merchandise doesn’t affect anyone in particular on campus, DeHaan notes that this is far from the case.

“I think it’s important (to note) that specifically from food service (Campus Dining) and from the Laker Store here on campus, any thefts, losses, they’re stealing from other students,” he said. “Quite frankly, it raises the prices on other things that are being sold here on campus to our student population. While individuals might believe that this is a victimless crime and that it doesn’t hurt anyone, it actually does: It hurts their fellow students.”

The penalty for retail fraud in the state of Michigan varies on the severity of the crime. Third-degree retail fraud is considered for shoplifting $200 or less worth of merchandise; second-degree retail fraud is considered for shoplifting $200 to $1,000 worth of merchandise; and first-degree retail fraud is considered for shoplifting more than $1,000 worth of merchandise. Depending on the severity, punishment can vary from fines to jail time.