Joseph J. Paul Problem Solution English 10111/5/00 Five-Finger Discount Every day, prices of products that we need continue to go up and up. Simple things like bread and tea go up for reasons that at first seem unknown. These High prices make it hard for many families to make ends meet. At the root of this problem there are many factors like inflation, over priced mark-up, and quantity of the product. But the one thing that should not lead to higher prices is shoplifting.

Shoplifting is a plague that is sweeping this nation. Because shoplifting has become such a problem, stores are forced to raise prices to make up for lost sales. This is not their fault, however, few people put the blame where it belongs. The thieves that plague our economy are to blame and the stores have every right to try to stop these people at all costs. Many stores have gone to great lengths to stop shoplifters.

Many install cameras to watch the store. That is what the black bubbles are on the ceiling in some of your favorite stores like Wal- mart and Biggs. They are continuously monitoring you and everything that you do. This is an attempt to watch people as they shop, in hopes that someone will be stupid enough to shoplift in front of a camera.

There are many problems with cameras. For one thing there is always a blind spot in the system. A blind spot is an area in the security system that is not constantly being observed. This term usually refers to an area where the security camera can't see. Big stores like Meijer and Wal-mart don't even try to put cameras in sections like fabrics and candles. My guess is that these are not high-risk zones, and not many people want to steal a ball of yarn.

And to boot most security cameras are not able to point straight down. This leaves a blind spot right under the camera. And this creates a big problem for the store, because the people whom know what they are doing just need to take the object they want to steal to these sections. From there slipping something in your pocket is no big deal. So cameras are most effective as a scare tactic. But, for big stores, stopping half of the nervous teenage kids from shoplifting is reason enough to hang those stupid black balls from the ceiling.

Another technique used by big stores is undercover employees. These employees sole job is to follow around punk teenagers, or other people that look like they are thieves, and wait for them to steal something. Many people are upset to learn that they are being followed in their favorite stores. However this technique does work with much success.

And if you are truly upset with the idea, I suggest shopping at smaller stores. Undercover employees are not good for every store. For example, a small drug store can't afford the labor to bring in someone to walk around the store all day. If a store can afford this, I suggest looking into this. I was surprised to learn that there are major name stores that still trust the customer.

The Old Navy in my neighborhood runs on the honor system. These means that there are no security cameras, undercover employees, or even hidden security devices. This is a very risky idea. This one Old Navy alone was estimated to have lost almost $3000 dollars in sales in the month of December last year. But the store still continues to flourish.

And this makes me wonder about honor system. Many potential shoplifters do have morals. And when these people are treated like they matter to the store, few take advantage of them. That is why when you walk into Blockbuster the first thing you see is a busy sales person greeting you. You feel kind of important when you walk in to the store. This is the first step to creating an environment that is secure but still inviting to the customers.

The Blockbuster corporation is not stupid. They know that this technique alone will not stop everyone from shoplifting. So Blockbuster took the next step. Installed on every item in the store there is a small metal strip. If this metal strip is to exit the building, an alarm sounds. The strip triggers a security device that is placed at the doors at which you exit.

Many stores are using this technique now. When you walk in you feel very relaxed and comforted by the sales people. Then you have free reign of the store. There are no annoying bubbles watching every move that you make. There and the sales repetitive aren't constantly asking you, "Can I help you?" You can just shop for what you came for and then leave without being bothered by security procedures. Although no security system is flawless this one shows promises.

A smart thief can easily get around an alarm system like this. It is rumored that if you put electric tape over the metal strip, it will not sound the alarm. But a true smart thief will realize that you don't have to steal the metal strip, when all you want is what it is attached to. This means simply peel off the sticker that holds the metal strip on. Thus allowing the item to easily flow right past the security alarms.

Not all of these techniques are for every store. Some will just not work in some environments. For example, installing security devices on everything in Wal-mart could be very costly because there are thousands of items that are in this store. And using the honor system in a store that is just full of desirable things, like Blockbuster, could be result in even higher rental prices for the general population.