He Said, She Said: Private looking to do ‘the right thing’ Print E-mail
Thursday, 25 May 2017
By Shaun and Pamela Collins
Special to GUIDON
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I’m just a private. I finished my AIT and got assigned here. I was in the Exchange one day looking at sunglasses, when I noticed a non-commissioned officer from my unit looking at the same glasses They were expensive and I decided I couldn’t afford them so I left that area of the store.

 When I went up to pay for other stuff, there was that same NCO in line paying for his stuff, but he was wearing the glasses he had earlier been looking at and trying on. I think he shoplifted them. I know if I say something to him, I will be reminded that I am an E-3 and he’s really buddy-buddy with the first sergeant. I’m not sure what to do other than know that when he comes into our supply room, I’ll be watching him close. Any advice?

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 HE SAID:  There are many factors that could account for this that do not include him stealing them ... for example, those may have been the glasses he already had and was looking at different glasses, but decided not to buy another set. Are you likely right? By all indications, yes.  However, for you to make an allegation, without seeing everything that happened is not likely to work out well for you, but that should not allow you to let him get away with stealing.  

 If he is a sergeant first class, who would steal sunglasses, he is not the type of leader we need in our Army —  he is a pestilence that needs to be eradicated from our force. You should look at your receipt and pull the time and date. Then you should take a photo of this NCO and ensure you have the correct spelling of his name.  

 You can take these items to the Exchange loss prevention office and report your suspicions and include the price of the item he was looking at, I know how expensive they are, so this should raise their interest level.  

 The Exchange has some of the best surveillance technology of any store I have ever seen, they can monitor just about every corner of the store and follow anyone from one camera to the next.  If you tell them which register you think he checked out on, they can pull his receipt, go back and look at the video and file charges if they find evidence of a crime.  

 I am very confident they will do so and do it quickly.  Even if they have destroyed that tape, they can put him in their fraud alert program and monitor him in the future.  

 I applaud your sense of honor and bravery. Never lose that, it will serve you well in life; but always choose your battles wisely. Sometimes things are not what they appear to be on the surface and that can take your noble efforts and turn them into a battle for your own survival.  Good luck and I’m proud that we are raising Soldiers like you in today’s Army.  

 SHE SAID: He may have paid for them at the jewelry counter and picked up additional items on his way out.

 I know that is unlikely, but unless you saw him removing the tag and putting them on, I would say there isn’t much you can do. You can, however, keep an eye on him.  If you suspect he is capable of stealing, it would be your responsibility to protect whatever property is under your care, including government property.

  I also would avoid telling others as, like I said, you aren’t positive that he stole them so even if he did, and he can trace that piece of information back to you, he knows he has a level of deniability and he could make your life miserable.  

 (Editor’s note: Shaun and Pamela Collins were both career Soldiers with a combined history of military service spanning over a half of a century. They have been where you are, so if you are facing a difficult situation, ask them. Send your question to This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it This column and other original content from Mr. and Mrs. Collins can be found at http://militarysuccessnetwork.com. The opinions expressed are those of the writers and not necessarily those of the Fort Leonard Wood Public Affairs Office or the GUIDON.)
Last Updated ( Wednesday, 07 June 2017 )