When students go to buy their textbooks this week, they will find a surprise awaiting them when they reach the escalator to the third floor of the Harvard Coop's book building.
Store employees are checking bags and tying them closed with red plastic ribbon in a renewed effort to control shoplifting. Coop Security Director Dawn J. Krasinski said the store tied bags during every student "book rush" until three years ago, when staff shortages forced them to end the practice. She said the procedure was meant to show students that the store was watching the merchandise.
"It's an attempt to try and bring to people's attention that we care and that we're trying to protect their profits," Krasinski said. "We're not trying to insult anyone by saying that anyone is a potential shoplifter--though, sadbut true, it does occur."
"The biggest deterrent against shopliftinganywhere is that any customer knows that storeemployees are aware of them," she added.
Krasinski said the store decided to tiestudents's bags this year because the text bookdepartment was unusually crowded. She said themanagers did not mean to discriminate againststudents, noting that the Coop posts undercoverguards throughout the store. "We're not justpicking on students, we're trying to controlfinkage," she said.
Customers interviewed yesterday found the newprocess strange, but few seemed offended by theprocedure.
"It was annoying having to stand there whilethey tied the bag, but so many places take yourbag altogether. It's better to have it tied," saidExtension School student Jennifer Gleason.
Most students bothered by the the ties simplytore them off on the third floor, leaving theaisles thickly strewn with red plastic ribbons byyesterday evening.
Krasinski said she did not know of anycomplaints about the practice. She said the storewould decide next term whether to continue thepolicy after testing students' reactions.
The Coop plans to continue the procedure untilthe end of the book rush, Krasinski said