This was the reason $16,326 was reported missing from the AU Bookstore Feb. 13.
Catherine Lee, the bookstore’s director, said they first noticed an increase in theft at the end of the fall semester.
“We’ve noticed that we’ve had insufficient books on hand where we are supposed to have enough,” Lee said.
She said this was how they realized that theft was becoming more of an issue.
Melvin Owens, the campus’ executive director of security and public safety, said there had been an increase in number of thefts reported on campus in 2008, but he didn’t know about the bookstore specifically.
Assistant director and textbook manager Russell Weldon said although he wasn’t sure whether the bookstore’s losses were greater or less than the previous years’, he did notice more theft in a specific window of time.
“The window that was of most concern for us was late November through buyback in December,” Weldon said in an e-mail, “With the economy the way it is, I think you could correctly attribute the increase to students struggling with harder financial times.”
The Feb. 13 police report approximated 152 textbooks were stolen, worth more than $16,000. Auburn Police Capt. Tom Stofer said he thinks the store took inventory and saw the books were missing.
“What’s targeted are the more expensive books,” Lee said.
Weldon said students will suffer from the situation more than anyone. If, for instance a $150 book is stolen, the store has to sell 10-15 books to make that $150 back. If the store can’t do that, they have to make up for the price difference somewhere else.
Weldon said publishers are already raising the prices they charge the bookstore by 8-10 percent every time it orders more books.
In order to make a profit, the bookstore has to raise its prices as well.
“This will destroy every last bit of our efforts to keep our costs down for everyone,” Weldon said of the recent theft, “Were trying to save you guys money everywhere we can, and every time a book disappears off our shelf, one student has the ability to hurt literally dozens of students.”
Lee said the bookstore is doing several things to stop the wave of theft.
“We have an increased police presence, we have a diligent staff and we are prosecuting,” Lee said.
Weldon said the bookstore has trained employees to be more aware and installed a new video surveillance system in January.
“We have caught several people,” Lee said. “We have caught a few people on our videotape, but probably half the time they are not even caught.”
Weldon said 99 percent of bookstore customers are honest, but the bookstore will be hard on the others.
“The bookstore will do everything it can to crack down on theft, no matter how small or large the case may be,” Weldon said.