CRIME: Justice at The Checkout

Justice at The Checkout

Eckerd Drug, a 1,700-store chain of pharmacies based in Clearwater, Fla., claims that it lost $30 million to shoplifters last year. Now the company has decided to do something about it. Instead of routinely prosecuting fast- fingered shoppers, more than half of Eckerd's pharmacies allow culprits to buy their way out of trouble by paying the store $200 ($150 in Louisiana). That eliminates the nuisance and expense of formal proceedings for Eckerd, the accused and the courts.

The program, sanctioned by authorities in 26 states, works like this: when shoplifters are caught, the store manager may or may not have them...

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