Breaking News in the Industry: March 15, 2017

Tips pour in to LAPD about $4.5 million makeup heist

The Los Angeles Police Department has received a flood of tips about a massive makeup heist at a Chatsworth warehouse, according to authorities.  Police put out word that between January 28 and 30, a crew of burglars cut a hole in the roof of the Anastasia Beverly Hills warehouse and made off with 100,000 palettes of “Modern Renaissance” eye-shadow valued at $4.5 million.

Police turned to the media for help Thursday and several outlets, including the Daily News, published stories online. “It kind of started a fire. We hope something positive comes out of it in a few days,” said detective Marc Zavala, of the volume of calls coming in. “I’ve been here since 7 a.m. fielding calls.” About 20 voicemails were waiting for the detective when he got to the office the Monday after the weekend heist. Most of the tipsters said they had seen the 14-shade palettes, which retail for about $42, on various Internet sites at deep discounts, Zavala explained. Among the sites mentioned were eBay and Amazon.

“There are no witnesses. What we are doing is following up on these people who are telling us it is showing up (on the Internet),” said Zavala.  The caper is being investigated by the LAPD’s Commercial Crimes Division, Cargo-Hijack Unit. Anyone with information about the crime is being urged to call Zavala at (818) 832-7510 or detective Jeannette Santos at (818) 832-7511. They can also call 877-LAPD-24-7, or go to LAPD Online and click “anonymous web tips.”  [For more: LA Daily News]

Former P&G employee to plead guilty to stealing $454,000 from company

Susan Ruhe, a former executive assistant at Proctor & Gamble, faces up to thirty years in a federal prison and a $1 million fine if convicted on charges of federal bank fraud. The woman is accused of stealing more than $450,000 during her employment of less than six years. While working in the Global Beauty Care Business Development department, she was responsible for expense reports, scheduling team meetings and events, as well as executive travel plans.

Ruhe is believed to have used corporate funds, ostensibly for company expenses, to instead fund her own personal accounts and pay off personal credit cards. Court documents allege that she misappropriated funds to the tune of $454,116.17. Ruhe will accept a plea agreement in order to waive the indictment and has furthermore agreed to repay P & G for all the missing funds in full.  [For more: Fox19 Now]

Texas cargo theft: $85K in stolen tuna

The rebuttal directed to Charlie the Tuna in countless commercials, “Sorry Charlie,” rang true, as Marcus Lynn Phillips was booked into the Wayne McCollum Detention Center for cargo theft. The Wichita Falls, Texas, resident was arrested in connection with the theft of semi-truck containing $85,000 in StarKist canned tuna.

This offense occurred in July of 2016 when a tractor-trailer was stolen. The load was pallets of StarKist canned tuna and the value of the tuna was $85,000. ,” Tri-County Auto Theft Task Force Capt. Stan Davis said. “A portion of it was recovered in Dallas County from a storage facility. Another investigator had some information that cargo theft suspects frequented that area and had gone to that area. That is how he located it.”
Davis said the original driver parked the semi-truck in the 200 block of Henderson St. in Midlothian on July 1, 2016. When the driver came back the next day, he discovered the vehicle was missing.

“Cargo theft is a fairly new statute. Cargo theft used to fall under the theft statute, regular theft, but because it is such a multi-billion dollar problem in the United States they got legislators a couple of years ago to make it a more serious offense,” Davis said. “It really depends on the value of it. This is a theft of cargo between $100,000 – $200,000. It is a third-degree felony. It is up to 10 years in state prison.”  [For more: Waxahatchie TX]

LP Worldwide: Brazil has 6th highest cargo transport risk rate in world

Cargo theft continues to be a major issue in Brazil, as the country was recently named 6th most dangerous in terms of cargo transport risk. A whopping 48 percent of all cargo robberies occurred in the Brazilian state of São Paulo, leading the way. Meanwhile, Rio de Janeiro, site of the recent 2016 Olympic games, accounted for 33 percent of the robberies. This number represents a record high in ground cargo theft. Corruption in government and police forces, combined with “increased professionalism in organized crime gangs”, is believed to be the main cause in the recent surge of cargo theft.

In order to combat these risks, transport companies are finding themselves having to spend an increasing amount on safety measures. Risk reduction strategies include providing cargo transportation with armed escorts and extra insurance. Unfortunately, this added security is costing businesses, as many report spending up to 13 percent of revenue on associated security costs. The most commonly targeted items are electronics, food, fuel, and prescription drugs.  [For more: The Rio Daily]

Neiman Marcus considers sale with Hudson’s Bay seen as suitor

Neiman Marcus Group Ltd., the struggling department-store chain that scrapped plans in January for an initial public offering, is considering a sale of the company instead.
 Neiman Marcus is in talks with Hudson’s Bay Co., the owner of Saks Fifth Avenue, about a buyout of the upscale retailer, according to the Wall Street Journal. The deal would exclude Neiman Marcus’s nearly $5 billion in debt, the newspaper reported. The takeover speculation follows Neiman Marcus’s announcement Tuesday that it’s working with financial advisers on a review of its strategic options, which may include selling part or all of its business. The company also wrote down its brand and other assets by $153.8 million last quarter and rejiggered its corporate structure to give it more financial flexibility.

Hudson’s Bay has also held talks about acquiring Macy’s Inc., people familiar with matter said earlier this year. With Neiman Marcus now available, the suitor has redirected its attention, according to the Journal. Hudson’s Bay, based in Toronto, declined to comment on possible talks.
Neiman Marcus is reeling from slower mall traffic and a broader consumer shift away from department stores. Sales at stores open for at least a year fell 6.8 percent in the second fiscal quarter, which ended Jan. 28. The company posted a net loss of $117.1 million in the period, dragged lower the write-down of its brand. It had reported a profit of $7.9 million in the year-earlier quarter.

Neiman Marcus’s customer base is aging, with many younger shoppers making more of their purchases online. But it’s attempting to freshen its image: Last year, Neiman Marcus teamed up with e-commerce startup Rent the Runway in a bid to attract more Millennials. The company has been opening in-store boutiques that let customers rent clothes and accessories. Millennials currently account for 15 percent of Neiman Marcus’s shoppers, with 36 percent coming from Generation Xers. That means it’s still highly reliant on baby boomers for sales. The company also has been hit by a decline in tourism spending. Neiman Marcus, based in Dallas, also owns the Bergdorf Goodman luxury stores and the off-price Last Call clearance centers. Buying Neiman Marcus instead of Macy’s wouldn’t bring Hudson’s Bay as much real estate — an asset it typically craves when pursuing past deals. But Neiman Marcus’s high-end reputation could fit well with Saks.  [For more: Bloomberg Markets]

Was race an issue in shoplifting incident at Charlotte beauty supply store?

Shelly Young, a sales person at Missha Beauty supply store, stood near the door Monday offering customers a cheery “Welcome to Missha” and alternately admonishing an outside protester with a stern lecture: “You are banned from these premises.” As she explained to a reporter: “No one’s allowed to come and harass our customers.” Young and her fellow Missha employees said they’ve received threats over the phone and in person since Thursday when the manager of the west Charlotte beauty supply store, Sung Ho Lim, attacked a would-be shoplifter.

Over the weekend, the incident flared into a racial protest when African American community leaders and some customers showed up at the store and called for a boycott. This came after cellphone video showed Lim, an Asian man, kicking and choking the accused shoplifter, a black woman. NAACP President Corine Mack said Monday she met with Lim, who “admitted that he did assault the woman. We have it on tape.…This young lady was the victim. Even if she had stolen a $3.99 pack of eyelashes, the physical assault she had to endure was not the way to handle that.”
Lim, who employees said no longer works at the Wilkinson Boulevard store, filed a report with the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department alleging “strong-arm robbery” by a woman, about 25 and wearing a pink hoodie. The report says that, when the woman attempted to leave the store, Lim blocked the exit and asked her to show him what was in her bag. The report says the woman refused “and a struggle ensued” before she fled in a silver Dodge sedan. Police said Monday that “the suspect has not been identified or arrested.” It describes Lim as “the victim,” and says he has not been charged.  [For more: The Charlotte Observer]

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