How hard is it, really, to keep a game’s case with the game itself? Is it just me? Years ago, when I first started going to GameStop, I thought the place was great. There was almost no other place in town to buy used video games – except the pawnshops occasionally (and even then you could only find about 4,877 copies of Madden). So when I found out about this “GameStop” place, it was great for a time.

And every once in a while, you would find a used game that was in this nondescript blue case, with a handwritten title on it. I would see these, and wonder what happened. Now, some of the time, I realize that cases will get broken or lost, and I simply brushed it off as random happenstance.

I went into GameStop today, and I would say a good 20% of all of the used titles were in plain, blue, handwritten boxes. Now, I know what this means, because I work in retail; these games were all stolen.

People have been taking DVDs from the Store for a long time, but they used to take the whole package, case, liner notes, and all. They would just keep walking when the alarm went off, and of course, these kids who are making $6 per hour don’t really give a damn about it, nor do I expect them to. So they would make off with brand new DVD and a case for nothing, but they did tend to draw a tiny amount of attention to themselves. So the shoplifters wised up. They know that the DVD manufacturers put the security strips in the case somehow, either with a magnetic strip, or a thick piece of paper with a Mag/RFID sticker on it. So how do you get around that? Boy, that is one infallible security measure there.

They are using keys. Just a simple set of car keys. They just walk by the display, snag the movie they want, slice it open with their keys, and pop the disc right out. Then the case is discarded.

I never really understood this, but wandering through GameStop today, it all made sense. They are selling these discs to GameStop… and GameStop is buying them.

Now, I really can’t stand shoplifting. But I just can’t determine who is the real bad guy here. Obviously, people shouldn’t be shoplifting. All it does is increase prices for people like me, who don’t make much money in the first place, and are morally obligated to actually purchase everything they want. But, by the same token, GameStop shouldn’t be purchasing these stolen goods from people. What they have effectively done, is take one store’s inventory, pay a middleman (the shoplifter) 5-10% of what it is worth, and then turn around a re-sell it to another unsuspecting gamer for a whopping $5 off normal retail. What a scam.

And corporate has to know what is going on, to some degree. Why do you think GameStop is one of the only video game stores that display the empty cases, and not the actual wrapped product? Even for new games? Because it would cut into their profit margin if their inventory was subject to the same shoplifters that they are, in reality, enabling to steal. They come out the victors. And once again, the honest man gets screwed by thieves and corporations.

But I don’t know what the answer is. I don’t really expect them to stop buying (even unknowingly) stolen games and DVDs. There will always be people who steal. And there will always be people willing to fence the goods for them. But I’ll tell you one thing; I would never buy a game in a nondescript, blue package. And if all GameStop patrons would stop buying them, then GameStop would probably stop buying solitary game and movie discs without the cases.

So then, at least we’d get to hear the alarm again when the shoplifters went out the door with our DVDs and videogames.