UC San Diego’s Bookstore averages approximately two thefts per week and loses about $60,000 worth of merchandise to theft annually, the UCSD Bookstore Loss and Prevention Department informed the UCSD Guardian.
For the 2015-16, 2016-17, and much of the 2017-18 academic years, the UC San Diego Police Department recorded 42 Bookstore shoplifting offenses. There were three attempted shoplifts reported, as well as reports of one grand theft by fraud in January 2016 and a burglary by fraud in January 2017. Records also show a burglary in September 2016 and a petty theft in January 2017.
According to UCSD Bookstore Loss Prevention Supervisor Thomas Bonetati, the Bookstore’s procedure in response to a theft varies, depending on whether or not the suspect is a student.
“If the suspect is a student, a report is forwarded to the Office of Student Conduct and penalties are assessed by them depending on the severity of the theft,” Bonetati said. “If a customer is not a student we issue a fine recorded with the county. If the suspect is not cooperative, the UC San Diego Police are called.”
The Bookstore Loss Prevention team’s criteria predicts a 95 percent certainty that an incident is a theft. However, the error rate is less than 1 percent.
“Greater than 99 percent of incident reports given to the Office of Student Life result in the appropriate penalty,” Bonetati stated, not elaborating on what that penalty is.
As part of the prediction criteria, the Bookstore responds to patterns regarding items that are most typically stolen. Bonetati noted that textbooks are one of the highest targets, and the theft rate is typically higher during the beginning of Fall Quarter. New merchandise is also more frequently the subject of thefts.
“Hydroflasks were a big target of theft when we were first displaying them in the store, which we adjusted by moving the product and concentrating more of our camera resources on where the items were displayed,” Bonetati said. “We also alert all of our staff to high-target items and try to ensure that we assist customers [who] are in those areas.”
“The Bookstore Loss Prevention Team is highly trained and our camera system is very effective,” Bonetati expressed. “It is a difficult experience for everyone to have to apprehend a student who is making a mistake by shoplifting.”
Bonetati also affirmed that the Bookstore’s average theft rate is significantly lower than the average rate for other retailers and campus stores, with the retail methodology for tracking shrinkage of merchandise being less than 0.25 percent.
“Retail shrinkage amounts generally average about 1.2 percent,” Bonetati said.
“Our low overall shrinkage ratio is evidence of a lower attempted theft or unresolved theft than most retailers,” Bonetati added. “We intervene on attempted thefts or have a theft that was not recoverable, meaning the suspect was not apprehended by the Bookstore or by UC San Diego Police, an additional three times per week. Reports for suspects who were not apprehended are sent to UC San Diego Police for future reference and there are cases where students have been apprehended after the incident.”