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Amazon’s First Retail Store Gets Robbed, Cash Stolen

AmazonatPurdue_1[1]Amazon may know all there is to know about online retail but there are still a few details about brick and mortar retail which escape them.

For the past four months Amazon has been running a virtual bookstore, or unstore as I call it, on the campus of Purdue University. That unstore is more of a staffed pick up and drop off location than a retail store, but it still fills the same role as college bookstores.

That includes buying textbooks back from students at the end of the school year, an evolution that usually involves paying students cash for their books. It turns out that Amazon needs to learn a thing or two about handling cash, or rather they need to be more careful in the temporary employees they hire to handle that cash.

The Lafeyette Journal Courier has been reporting that Amazon suffered a smash and grab robbery last month. Someone grabbed the cash box when it was left unsupervised at the book buyback location in Earheart Hall, ran out of the building and was driven away by an accomplice.

There is no info on the amount of cash stolen, and there were no reports of injuries.

The thief was later identified (by the Journal Courier) as the parent of a girl who was working the book buyback, and the get away driver has been identified as his son. The police allege that the girl left the cash box unsupervised so her father could steal it, making Amazon the victim of a low-rent Ma Barker and gang.

As someone who worked retail both as a temp and as a regular employee, I am surprised at this. Yes, this kind of thing happens, but better hiring policies can lessen the risk. And with Amazon aggressively pursuing the college bookstore market (the Purdue unstore is just the first of four locations so far), clearly they’re going to have to work on those policies.

Thanks, Dr M!

image by Sean McMenemy

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Haesslich June 16, 2015 um 9:27 am

I’m guessing a few more incidents like this may have them focus their efforts away from 'stores' and more towards the pickup lockers which require less staff and cash on hand.

fjtorres June 16, 2015 um 1:15 pm

Petty theft and pilferage is part of the cost of doing business. How you do business doesn’t change that. Only the type of pilferage changes.
Amazon knows it and knew it going in.

Nate Hoffelder June 16, 2015 um 5:50 pm

I’d say this exceeds the definition of petty pilfering. But even so, steps can be taken to keep this incident from happening again.

puzzled June 16, 2015 um 5:45 pm

Amazon will make back the money in three milliseconds … if that long …

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