The good thing about the PlayStation 5 shortage being over now is that people who want the consoles can finally buy them. The bad news is that it’s also apparently led to an uptick in GameStop robberies as thieves target the pricey and easy-to-flip consoles. GameStop’s answer? A $5,000 reward for catching thieves, even as company cutbacks leave many employees to fend for themselves.
Kotaku recently reported on a Northeastern Pennsylvania store where thieves made off with 10 PS5s at $500 each, but it’s far from the only recent incident. Polygon points out that nearly 30 GameStops were robbed in the last months according to local news reports. While that’s only one percent of all of the stores in the U.S., it’s a potentially troubling trend for employees increasingly tasked with being the sole person on shift due to cutbacks in hours, layoffs, and issues with attrition.
Many of the recent GameStop robberies were part of a spree of PS5 thefts in Los Angeles County’s San Fernando Valley where police told the local Fox affiliate they believed the same group, allegedly responsible for over 12 store robberies, was involved. Head of GameStop loss prevention, Alan Fagergren, told the TV news station many of the incidents involved the suspects posing as customers before claiming to be armed and going into the storage room where the PS5s are kept.
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While Fagergren is offering $5,000 on behalf of the company for any tips that lead to arrests in the investigation (it doesn’t sound like anyone’s been caught yet), that’s a paltry amount when compared against the cutback in resources many stores are facing at the moment. Many current and former employees Kotaku has spoken with said that while having additional staff on shift would not prevent an armed robbery, it could discourage attempts in the first place, as well as provide more peace of mind among the other employees.
As consolidation and cutbacks in scheduling hours have left employees stretched, many complain about not having time to eat lunch or use the bathroom, let alone hit their sales goals on a given day. One new metric even requires loading PS5 buyers up with at least two to three extra games and controllers before they leave the store. Digital game sales might be taking over the market, but people still need to get the hardware to play it on, something GameStop has wanted to capitalize on since the new consoles launched.
“It’s worth some money,” Fagergren told Fox 11 Los Angeles when describing why thieves are after PS5s. “Like I said, they’re not cheap. Anyone who plays it loves it. We’re a target at the moment, yeah.”