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Q: Shoplifting and Civil Recovery in US Government Retail Stores ( Answered 5 out of 5 stars,   1 Comment )
Subject: Shoplifting and Civil Recovery in US Government Retail Stores
Category: Relationships and Society > Law
Asked by: cjkc-ga
List Price: $65.00
Posted: 09 Nov 2005 18:04 PST
Expires: 09 Dec 2005 18:04 PST
Question ID: 591271
The government exchange stores that provide retail items for the
troops to purchase indicate that the Congress gave them the authority
to demand $200 Administrative Fees (identified as Civil Recovery
Damages) by demand letters from active duty and retired military
personnel when either they or their sponsored dependents (children as
young as ten years old) are detained and accused of shoplifting from
the US government retail stores.

The government exchange stores i8ndicate that this $200 must be paid
by the military sponsors (or taken out of their pay) even when the
merchandise i8s immediately surrendered to under-cover surveillance
retail police in merchantable condition and returned to stock to be
sold.  The suspects, even the children, are allowed to pass final
checkous without paying for merchandise and without being asked to pay
for merchandise, and are not allowed to pay for the merchandise once
it has been carried past final checkout points.  It is made known to
these suspects that the government can arrest and charge them with
completed larcenies both before and after the sponsor pays the $200 to
the government.

I can't believe that the Congress would impose this large and unfair
and unequal fine on our troops and additionally  make the troops
responsible for the offenses of the sponsored dependents who shop in
military exchange stores, even their children as young as ten years

This fine appears to be especially unfair and unjust because $200
represents greater punishment of a Private or a Corporal and his
family than $200 represents for punishment of a Colonel or a General
and his family.

I have read that detentions for shoplifting have increased in military
exchanges since this $200 fine was imposed on the troops in March of
2002 and this doesn't surprise me.  If there is more money and profit
in the detention of suspects for shoplifting outside of the stores
than in stopping or deterring shoplifting within the stores, the
outcome is predictable and unfortunate for the troops.

Can any of you Google Researches help me to find in the law where the
Congress of rhe United States has authorized this $200 fine called an
Administrative Fee for Civil Recovery for Shoplifting in government
retail stores.  If the Congress authorized this $200 Fee as Civil
Recovery, it must have been in 2001 because the government retail
stores started to impose this fine on the troops in March of 2002,
just before the start of the war.
Subject: Re: Shoplifting and Civil Recovery in US Government Retail Stores
Answered By: czh-ga on 10 Nov 2005 17:25 PST
Rated:5 out of 5 stars
Hello cjkc-ga,

You asked if we could locate the law authorizing the $200 fine for
?Administrative Fee for Civil Recovery for Shoplifting. It was part 
of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2002, Public
Law 107-107. Sec. 335. Civil recovery for nonappropriated fund
instrumentality costs related to shoplifting amended Section
3701(b)(1)(B) of title 31, United States Code.

I?ve included the links for these provisions and some of the
implementing instructions from specific military branches or

Further research showed that shoplifting is a serious problem on
military bases and this new law is meant to give additional clout to
efforts and prevention and enforcement of penalties as appropriate.
I?ve collected a variety of articles to help you get an overview of
current trends.

I?m afraid this might not be what you wanted to hear. Please don?t
hesitate to ask for clarification if any  of this is confusing.

All the best.

~ czh ~

[DOCID: f:publ107.107]
 [[Page 1011]]
 [[Page 115 STAT. 1012]]
 Public Law 107-107
 107th Congress

An Act
To authorize appropriations for fiscal year 2002 for military
activities of the Department of Defense, for military construction,
and for defense activities of the Department of Energy, to prescribe
personnel strengths for such fiscal year for the Armed Forces, and for
other purposes.
<<NOTE: Dec. 28, 2001 -  [S. 1438]>> 

Subtitle C--Commissaries and Nonappropriated Fund Instrumentalities

Sec. 335. Civil recovery for nonappropriated fund instrumentality
costs related to shoplifting.


    Section 3701(b)(1)(B) of title 31, United States Code, is amended
by inserting before the comma at the end the following: ``, including
actual and administrative costs related to shoplifting, theft
detection, and theft prevention''.

***** This is the relevant law that applies to the question you asked
about recovery of costs related to shoplifting.

Bill Summary & Status for the 107th Congress

Title: A bill to authorize appropriations for fiscal year 2002 for
military activities of the Department of Defense, for military
constructions, and for defense activities of the Department of Energy,
to prescribe personnel strengths for such fiscal year for the Armed
Forces, and for other purposes.
Latest Major Action: Became Public Law No: 107-107 [GPO: Text, PDF]

***** This was the House bill that was the basis of the law.

                                     76 599                                 
                          107 th Congress  1st Session                      
                            HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES                        
                                      107 333                                 
                      NATIONAL DEFENSE AUTHORIZATION                     
                         ACT FOR FISCAL YEAR 2002                        
                            CONFERENCE REPORT                            
                               to accompany                              
                                 S. 1438                                 
 [Graphic Image Not Available]
                December  12, 2001.--Ordered to be printed   

Civil recovery for nonappropriated fund instrumentality costs related
to shoplifting (sec. 335) The House amendment contained a provision
(sec. 323) that would authorize the military exchanges to pursue
federal debt collection remedies against shoplifters in the military
exchange stores.
    The Senate bill contained no similar provision.                        

    The Senate recedes.                            

Department of Defense Directive
Number: 1015.1
Date: August 19, 1981
Subject: Establishment, Management and Control of Nonappropriated Fund

Authority of Military Exchanges to Lease General Purpose Office Space

DoD Directive 1015.1 defines a military exchange NAFI as follows:

An integral DoD organizational entity that performs an essential
government function. It acts in its own name to provide or to assist
other DoD organizations in providing [morale, welfare, and recreation]
programs for military personnel and authorized civilians. It is
established and maintained individually or jointly by the Heads of DoD
Components. As a fiscal entity, it maintains custody of and control
over its [nonappropriated funds]. It is also responsible for the
exercise of reasonable care to administer, safeguard, preserve, and
maintain prudently those appropriated fund resources made available to
carry out its function. It contributes, with its [nonappropriated
funds] to the [morale, welfare, and recreation] programs of other
authorized organizational entities, when so authorized. It is not
incorporated under the laws of any state or the District of Columbia
and it enjoys the legal status of an instrumentality of the United

***** This is the definition of the law that applies for the types of
organizations impacted by the shoplifting rules.

US Coast Guard
Coast Guard Morale, Well-Being, and Recreation (MWR)
Nonappropriated Fund Instrumentalities Manual
Chapter 5 ? Fiscal Management
Section H -- Civil Recovery for NAFI Costs Related to Shoplifting

***** This is the Coast Guard instruction regarding shoplifting and
NAFI. See page 42 for specific policies.

AAFES implements new civil recovery program 
AAFES News Release

Army and Air Force Exchange Service (AAFES) and Department of Defense
officials asked for and received legislation that will grant federal
retail stores the right to create civil recovery programs.

The National Defense Authorization Act for fiscal 2002 amended the
Federal Claims Collection Act by redefining a "debt" as it relates to
nonappropriated funds. The amendment allows federal retailers like
AAFES to recover losses and administrative costs directly relating to
shoplifting, theft detection and theft prevention from shoplifters
through existing federal debt collection methods.

AAFES implemented its Civil Recovery Program on March 1 and will now
pursue the actual loss of the merchandise taken and charge a flat rate
administrative cost on every shoplifting incident.

If shoplifted merchandise is not returned to the store, or is returned
but cannot be sold, AAFES will demand the full retail value of the

If it is recovered in damaged condition but still saleable, AAFES will
demand the difference between the full retail value and the reduced
sale value. The administrative cost will be $200.

Shoplifting in the military exchanges annually costs service members
millions of dollars, AAFES officials said.

AAFES personnel catch an average of 11,211 shoplifters each year. The
expenses related to shoplifting, theft prevention and detection reduce
the dividends available for the AAFES mission - to give back 100
percent of its earnings to exchange customers through quality-of-life
programs and modern and convenient facilities to shop.

***** This is a press release announcing the implementation of the
NAFI shoplifting  recovery program.

Shoplifters at Riley face losing everything

Shoplifting increase baffles Bragg

Shoplifting: expensive, life-changing 

Shoplifting guarantees
When a person shoplifts at the PX they are guaranteed several things:
They will be arrested by MPs who show up at the PX and escort them to
be processed and released. It can be a humiliating experience to be
marched out through the PX to a police vehicle, Gross said.

In addition, anyone caught shoplifting is automatically charged a $200
civil recovery fee and their shopping privileges are instantly revoked
for six months, with second-offenders losing this privilege
indefinitely, Gross said. Though a letter may be submitted to ask that
the fee be waived, such a request is rarely granted, he said. In the
event a minor is caught stealing, his parents are responsible for
paying this fine.

November 28, 2003 
Holidays spur shoplifting spree

Congress recently passed a civil recovery law allowing the exchange
system to charge every shoplifting suspect $200 regardless of the
trial verdict. This is to help cover some of the administrative costs
from detaining a suspect.

Sticky fingers risk fines, loss of privileges and jail

Navy Exchange Service Command news: anti-shoplifting program enhanced;
Star Card offers lower interest rates

The Navy Exchange Service Command has implemented an enhanced Civil
Recovery Program to aggressively pursue administration costs for the
detection and prevention of shoplifting. Civil Recovery allows a
retailer to collect the costs associated with theft detection and
apprehension from the person committing the offense.

?Recent legislation now allows federal retail stores to administer
civil recovery worldwide,? said Ron Passarge, loss prevention
specialist. ?These changes grant NEXCOM the authority to pursue all
cases of shoplifting, including active duty personnel and NEX
associates committing internal theft for the costs associated with
their apprehension. This is above and beyond our normal criminal

AAFES gets new weapon in fight against shoplifting

Project P049106: Public Workshop: Radio Frequency Identification:
Applications and Implications for Consumers: Notice Announcing the
Public Workshop and Requesting Public Comment
Civil Recovery for Nonappropriated Fund Instrumentality Costs Related
to Shoplifting.

From: Thomas Eblen
Sent: Thursday, July 1, 2004, 11:01 am
To: rfidworkshop
RFID Chips Could Help Our Troops and Their Families

***** This letter summarizes the issues involved with the $200
shoplifting fines and shares your concerns.


Civil recovery for nonappropriated fund instrumentality costs related
to shoplifting
Section 3701(b)(1)(B) of title 31, United States Code
Nonappropriated fund instrumentalities: financial management and use
of nonappropriated funds
Civil recovery of nonappropriated
Civil recovery of nonappropriated funds shoplifting
Civil recovery shoplifting military posts

Request for Answer Clarification by cjkc-ga on 10 Nov 2005 19:09 PST
Thank you for all of your good research but where in the law was the
$200 fine on the troops authorized?  This isn't covered in any of the
material you have provided.  That is, how was the congressional
enabling amendment codified ----Was it the Congress,  the Department
of Defense, or the AAFES Exchange Stores who determined that the
military sponsors would pay $200.00 for their own offenses or the
offenses of their sponsored dependents, children as young as ten years
The Congress just seems to have given the Defense Department AAFES/MWR
the authority to implement a Civil Recovery Program but was it the
Congress who approved civil recovery damages of $200 that would be the
highest minimum civil recovery  as authorized by statute in a few
states like Florida and Washington State instead of a much lower
minimum civil recovery as authorized by statute in the majority of
states?  One wonders why the federal government opted for the highest
minimum civil recovery damages for the troops.
Apparently,  it was not the Congress itself who determined the amount
of the fine and the policy for applying the fine.  Just who was it who
finally approved and authorized this $200.00 fine that is treated as a
debt? Where is the authority and standard for the fine that is treated
as a debt in the federal law, the UCMJ  or rule or regulation of the
Armed Services.   I can't find any authority for this fine and the
policy and standard for the  application of the fine.   There has to
be more specific authority for the $200 fine than the broad and vague
amendment to the Debt Collection Act that was placed in the 2001
Defense Bill.
The AAFES says the Congress authorized this fine but they didn't
-----they just authorized "a mechanism outside of formal judicial
proceedings" that would permit the exchanges to recover some
shoplifting losses" or wordw to that effect.  Where is the legal
authority for the mechanism?
Can you help me with this?  This is what I am looking for.

Clarification of Answer by czh-ga on 11 Nov 2005 10:33 PST
Hello again cjkc-ga,

I found the answer to your original question about finding the law
authorizing the change about shoplifting at military facilities but
finding the authorization for the specific rule for setting the
administrative fee at $200 has been extremely difficult. There is one
press release from AAFES that has been recycled into news accounts at
(seemingly) every military base. I?ve also found a couple of articles
about people who were caught in extremely punitive shoplifting
situations. So far I haven?t been able to find the information about
how the $200 administrative fee was developed and authorized.

I?ve sent some e-mails asking for information and I?m continuing my
search. I will keep you updated as I get more answers.

~ czh ~

Clarification of Answer by czh-ga on 12 Nov 2005 01:39 PST
Hello again cjkc-ga,

I have spent several hours trying to pin down the information about
the authorization for the $200 administrative fee for shoplifting at
military commissary?s but I?ve come up blank. There is a March, 2002
press release from AAFES that announces the new procedure.

?AAFES will implement its Civil Recovery Program on March 1, 2002. In
doing so, it will pursue the actual loss of the merchandise taken and
charge a flat rate administrative cost on every shoplifting incident.
If shoplifted merchandise is not returned to the store, or is returned
but cannot be sold AAFES will demand the full retail value of the
merchandise. If it is recovered in damage condition but still salable,
AAFES will demand the difference between the full retail value and the
reduced sale value. The administrative cost will be $200.?

This press release seems to have been recycled to every military base
and every article written about the problems of shoplifting at
military commissary?s. The press release does not explain the basis or
authority for the $200 administrative fee.

The next closest information I was able to come up with are the
transcripts of the committee hearings by the House Armed Services'
Morale, Welfare, and Recreation (MWR)Subcommittee chaired by Roscoe G.
Bartlett, R-MD. These seem to indicate that the Army and Air Force
Exchange Service (AAFES) and the Department of Defense asked for the
legislation to create civil recovery programs. These requests were met
but I couldn?t find a specific record of how the $200 administrative
fee was established or who authorized it. Circumstantial evidence
seems to suggest that it was proposed by AAFES and DOD and approved by
the House Armed Services MWR subcommittee chaired by Roscoe G.

I also found some court cases involved with the Civil Recovery Act but
they did not spell out who set the amount of the administrative fee.
I?m afraid I?ve run into a brick wall. I have some e-mails out to
various congressional offices. I will post their responses as soon as
I get them.

I hope that what I?ve found is useful even though I?m still waiting
for further information to help you get the ultimate answer.

All the best.

~ czh ~
For Immediate Release:March 29, 2001

The hearing will come to order.
I welcome all members to our first meeting of the 107th Congress, and
particularly welcome our new and returning members. As you all know,
Robert Underwood and I have been asked to take the helm of the Panel
this Congress, succeeding our good friends and colleagues John McHugh
and Marty Meehan. John and Marty have been wonderful stewards of MWR
programs for the past six years, and I salute them.

We also are pleased to welcome several new members to the Panel, Ander
Crenshaw of Florida, Mark Kirk of Illinois, Ed Schrock of Virginia,
and Susan Davis of California. Neil Abercrombie was careful to
establish his credentials as a returning member. I welcome all new and
our returning members to the Panel.

US House Armed Services Committee
For Immediate Release:July 26, 2001

Morale, Welfare and Recreation Panel Markup
The purpose of today's meeting is to mark up the Morale, Welfare, and
Recreation Panel's portion of H.R. 2586, the National Defense
Authorization Bill for Fiscal Year 2002.

I want to thank the Panel's ranking Democrat, Robert Underwood of
Guam, for his support and help in crafting this legislation. Although
the Panel has had a substantial change in membership, all members have
continued our proud tradition of non-partisanship, working tirelessly
to protect the commissary and exchange benefit and provide the best
MWR programs possible for military families.

The MWR mark addresses several other issues:

Unfortunately, shoplifting is a major problem for the military
exchanges. We have included a provision that will make it easier for
the exchanges to recover the cost of stolen merchandise from

Roscoe Bartlett
Maryland's 6th District

July 30, 2001 
House panel nixes commissary privatization plan 

?Our major legislative accomplishment this year may be what we will
not do,? said Rep. Roscoe Bartlett, R-Md., the panel?s chairman.
?Specifically, we will not authorize the Department of Defense to test
commissary privatization. I?m all for trying out new ideas, but we
need a period, particularly with so many other parts of DoD under a
microscope, to chart a steady course and protect a proven and
treasured benefit.?

Legislative News July 27, 2001
July 27, 2001

House Starts Work on Authorization Bill
The House Armed Services' Morale, Welfare, and Recreation Subcommittee
began work this week on the FY2002 Defense Authorization Bill. At
Thursday's markup, Rep. Roscoe Bartlett (R-MD), chairman of the
subcommittee, set out their goals. "We will not authorize the
Department of Defense to test commissary privatization - we will not
consider exchange integration this year, either," Bartlett said.
Earlier, AUSA sent a letter to Chairman Bartlett urging that he oppose
commissary privatization. The committee also recommends that: DECA be
able to recover the residual value of commissary stores built with
surcharge funds when those facilities are used for non-commissary
purposes; drilling reservists be able to use their commissary benefits
in their first year of service; easier procedures for exchanges to
recover the cost of stolen merchandise from shoplifters; and ensure
that only adults have access to slot machines in areas where they are
currently authorized.

Defense Commissary Agency (DeCA.)

The Defense Commissary Agency with headquarters at Fort Lee, Virginia,
operates a worldwide chain of commissaries providing groceries to
military personnel, retirees and their families in a safe and secure
shopping environment. Authorized patrons purchase items at cost plus a
5-percent surcharge, which covers the costs of building new
commissaries and modernizing existing ones.

The Costs and Benefits of Retail Activities at Military Bases
October 1997 
Section 5 of 10
Chapter Three

An Overview of DoD's Nonappropriated-Fund Activities

October 1997

The Department of Defense (DoD) is seeking to reduce its
infrastructure of bases and support activities in order to free up
funds to replace aging weapon systems. One aspect of DoD's
infrastructure that may merit review is its network of on-base grocery
stores, department stores, and other shops that sell goods and
services at below-market prices to active-duty, reserve, and retired
military personnel. Despite the decline in the size of the military
since the end of the Cold War, DoD remains one of the largest
retailers in the United States. Its stores, with annual sales of more
than $14 billion, employ 96,000 civilians--one for every 15
active-duty service members. What explains the size and scope of DoD's
retail activities in the United States? Are government-run stores
necessary to provide access to goods at military bases or to preserve
military morale and cohesion? Are they more cost-effective than cash
allowances as a way to attract and retain a high-quality force?

Rebecca Santosdedios

Sec. 3701

Request for Answer Clarification by cjkc-ga on 12 Nov 2005 09:17 PST
Thank you czh-ga -----I can see you have spent a lot of time
researching this question and have found all the info that is possible
to find.
It appears that the Heads of the Exchange Stores got together and
developed policy for a $200 fine on the troops but there is no public
record and there was no notice in the Federal Register, etc.. and
there is no public record in the Congress.  It seems unlikely that the
DOD didn't sign off on the $200 fine but there appears to be no record
available to the public.
There is no published standard in law or regulation  for the debt
identified as civil recovery anywhere and this is probably intentional
because the debt (the civil recovery) is established by a military
police investigation of the shoplifting incident, I assume.  The
threat of prosecution for the crime of larceny looms in the background
of these letter demands to our troops for $200 for their own offense
or the offense of a sponsored dependent.  This seems blatantly
unconstitutional to me. I believe shoplifting suspects are also being
cited and sent to the Magistrate Court where they pay fines to the
government as well but we see that the courts protect these somewhat
new civil recovery laws.
Rep.  Bartlett didn't tell the Congress, who passed this amendment
with the 2001 Defense Bill in the wake of 9-11, that the troops would
pay a civil recovery fine, disguised as a debt of $200, and probably a
Federal Magistrate fine as well.  I'm sure that most of the members of
the House of Representatives had no idea of what kind of mechanism 
would be developed from this amendment ---that is,  if they even knew
the amendment was attached to the bill.  This is frightening but I
guess they don't have time or staff to read and study everything and
the focus was on 9-11 legislation.
The pity is, of course, that the debt-collection lobbyists had their
way and they are getting a lot of this $200 that is taken out of the
pockets of the troops. You notice that the Government retail stores
said that the demand letters were in the mail within 48 hours of the
incident and even indicated the name of the private collection agency,
who no doubt pushed this to the DOD in their own interests.
I have tried to find out under the FOIA just how much the AAFES is
paying the private collection agencies to write these demand letters
but to no avail,  The government ducks this question under the guise
that this information is exccmpt from FOIA disclosure.
It appears that the three branches of government have made this unjust
fine on the troops possible.  But,  how can they justify punishing the
troops to a greater extent than most of the civilian population is
punished for the same offense in private retail stores.  Our troops
and their families already give so much for the policies of their
government.  This is disgraceful and unworthy of our democracy.
Just say Goodbye to me and I will come back and rate you and tip you. 
You are a terrific researcher and Google should be proud of you.

Clarification of Answer by czh-ga on 12 Nov 2005 10:44 PST
Hello cjkc-ga,

I have a feeling that you?re right about how the $200 fine came about.
Everything about the running of the commissaries seems to be quite
murky. They?re not military, not quite civil service and not quite
private. The documents from 1997 that that I included that tried to
make sense of it are fairly instructive. Be sure to read the entire
The Costs and Benefits of Retail Activities at Military Bases

It seems that following this report there was some attempt from DOD to
close some commissaries and, even more drastic, to privatize them.
Privatization was the big issue the year that the shoplifting rules
were amended so I?m not surprised that the shoplifting rules weren?t
even noticed. The case reports on how shoplifting charges are handled
seem to agree with you.

Some of the articles about the running of the post exchanges show that
they?re struggling in some locales because they?re competing with
Wal-Mart. They?re also having trouble deciding who are their customers
? the young families who are on active duty or the retired who want to
buy luxury goods at reduced prices.

I?m sorry I haven?t been able to find this information for you. At
least you got a chance to vent. I hope I can help you with future
search assignments.

~ czh ~
cjkc-ga rated this answer:5 out of 5 stars and gave an additional tip of: $25.00
Great Research ------ You confirm my suspicion that the amendment was
planted in the law and then acted upon without establishing a standard
for the debt or the civil recovery fee.  We have to keep working to
maintain OPEN Government in the interests of a healthy democracy and
research and the internet and Google works towards this end.
I will continue my march.

Subject: Re: Shoplifting and Civil Recovery in US Government Retail Stores
From: czh-ga on 12 Nov 2005 13:11 PST
Hello cjkc-ga,

I hope you can do something about this situation. The more I read
about it, the more unfair it seemed. Best wishes for your project.
Thank you for the affirmations, five stars and very generous tip.

~ czh ~

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