Is a sandwich worth the record?
Warrant for arrest: unlawful possession of a sandwich
Published: Friday, September 24, 2010
Updated: Wednesday, February 13, 2013 16:02
During the first two weeks of classes on the UNH campus, seven arrests have been made by the UNH police for theft of food and drink from campus facilities. Wildcatessen, famous for its late weekend hours and delicious subs, suffers the most theft.
Andrew Porter, the retail area manager for Wildcatessen, Philbrook Café, Albert's Café, Union Court, Panache, UNH Dairy Bar and Gables Café, deals with shoplifting from his locations "on a daily basis, no doubt," he said.
When asked about the volume of theft that occurs at Wildcatessen, he laughed.
"No way! People steal from Wildcatessen?" he asked.
Porter said that since Wildcatessen does not keep inventory on items stocked versus purchased, "there is no hard number to measure it by, but we definitely lose thousands of dollars worth of stolen items per year," he said.
Once a student is caught stealing, the police are called and "they come down and they do what they need to do. At that point it's out of our hands," he said.
Once students are in the hands of UNH police, the consequences can be severe. One student, who wished to remain anonymous, recounted his experience this year, when he and a friend were caught putting a submarine sandwich into a backpack without paying.
"Apparently, the manager saw [my friend] put the sub in my bag, and she called the cops," the student, a sophomore, said. "At least that's what they told me while they were arresting me."
The student was handcuffed, arrested and taken to Strafford County Jail. He was held on a $40 bail and charged wth shopliftin. He faces a court date in the upcoming month.
His expected punishment?
"A misdemeanor, which I think is a little harsh for $2.50…I took half a sub," the student said.
Porter said that most students who are caught stealing "don't realize that a $5 sandwich could be the difference in having a permanent criminal record."
A variety of security measures are in place in an attempt to curb theft, ranging from security cameras to staff members designated to look out for suspicious behavior. In the past year, police details have sometimes been stationed in Wildcatessen on the weekends.
"We actually pay a police officer to watch for theft at the busiest hours of the night," Porter said.
So what else can be done to minimize the loss of money and merchandise retail at café locations across campus?
"We will be implementing a new system at Wildcatessen within the next month or so, where the most theft occurs," Porter said.
To prevent students from eating their made-to-go food without paying for it, a third register will be installed so the customer must pay at the time of ordering. Although this won't solve the problem, it should limit the amount of "entitled shoplifters," as Porter calls them, students "who didn't consciously walk into the store planning to steal, but feel entitled to eat or take something without purchasing it."
"Ultimately, this behavior just costs everyone money," he said. "We have to hire more staff, product prices rise. It's not a productive way to run business."