Randy Ansley

The evils of high-tech can leave us devastated when all we wanted was a new computer mouse. I'm talking about space-age packaging.

Manufacturers of small electronic devices, in order to quench the fears of retailers that these items may be shoplifted, have developed packaging that mortal man cannot overcome. These packages are generally large making them hard to hide, but more importantly, are made out of unbelievably strong plastics.

This new packaging is so strong that if the military made its equipment out of it, the bad guys would not stand a chance. Knives, scissors, hammers and even chainsaws have trouble opening these packages. On a recent purchase of a $29 computer peripheral it took me more than an hour to get it out of the package without destroying the device.

Anti-theft devices

Now, as if the super package was not enough, the manufacturers have installed still other crime-fighting devices. A small anti-theft gizmo that will hopefully be de-activated at the check-stand when you pay for your purchase is found inside. No one knows just how these little guys work, but if your clerk does not totally de-activate them, when you get to the front door, lights will go off and bells will ring making you wonder whether you are the 1 millionth customer or if you are going to jail.

I find it a curiosity that the super packaging and anti-theft devices are found on $12 items but not on things like a $1,200 16-foot aluminum row-boat.

Local efforts

In a small town like ours, you will not find nearly as many of these shoplifting devices, but theft can still happen. Our merchants are our friends and neighbors and a few missing items in their stores can be just as devastating as the big losses in big city stores. Being a merchant is not always an easy job. A storeowner must pay rent, payroll, cost of goods, advertising, utilities and many other expenses before they can turn a profit. Shoplifting results in high prices for everyone. Theft is not good for the merchant and is not good for the rest of us. The next time you see someone try to put a bowling ball in their pocket, you might want to let someone in the store know.

Randy Ansley, the Battery Point Lighthouse keeper, can be reached at