Shoplifting trend means Bart Mart, Midway Market close early

The stores will close at midnight through Thursday due to concerns over the safety of store staff, after spike in aggressive, drunken shoplifting.

By Asher Klein

Late night shopping will not be available this week at Maroon and Midway Markets, better known as Bart Mart and its counterpart in the South Campus Residence Hall, as Campus Housing and Dining are concerned for the safety of workers in the face of brazen shoplifting.

The stores will close at midnight until Thursday (they would have stayed open until 3 a.m.) and at 8 p.m. on Friday, the last day of the quarter, as usual. The stores have closed at midnight since June 1.

Shoplifting incidents have increased at both stores this quarter, according to Housing and Dining Director Richard Mason, as have the incidences of destructive behavior. He said the staff would confront the perpetrators—Mason said students tended to be involved—about their behavior, and have been faced with an increased level of aggression that has not checked by a message sent out through residence heads.

“The interactions between the staff and the people they’ve been confronting about their behavior have begun to escalate, and the staff have begun to feel for their safety,” said Mason, who added no one has been hurt in these confrontations.

The incidents, similar to ones that have taken place in recent years but more frequent and with a marked change in tone, have involved “drunkenness, swearing, belligerent behavior towards the staff as they have confronted obvious shoplifting,” Mason said. They have tended to take place later in the night.

One incident, which took place on May 21 at 11:45 p.m. at Maroon Market, resulted in the arrest of two people on May 27, following a University Police (UCPD) investigation, according to the UCPD Daily Incident Reports. UCPD officials were not available for comment when this article was written.

Residence staff members, including residence heads, were asked to speak with students about the incidents, in an effort to curtail the incidents, Mason said. Students involved have been disciplined, he said.

Mason said he was concerned over “the meta-message of posting security guards at the door” when asked why that solution was not pursued.

Given the greater frequency and intensity of the incidents, Mason said he was concerned that the norm for crime at the markets was changing—something that he hopes to address in the fall, he said: “The direction I’d like to go into is start next fall is start with some strong educational messages to reset the norm.”

Mason indicated business would not be seriously affected. “In looking at the people who buy stuff, still the overwhelming majority of people are being served before midnight,” Mason said.