Breaking News in the Industry: May 15, 2017

Police arrest two, recover $500,000 of stolen goods in breakup of Bay Area-wide ORC theft ring

Police arrested two suspects at a San Leandro, California, residence and recovered about $500,000 worth of property, as part of what appears to be the break-up of an Organized Retail Crime (ORC) ring that targeted CVS and Walgreens stores in Berkeley and elsewhere in the Bay Area. Five of the thefts occurred at CVS and Walgreens stores in Berkeley, in January and February, according to a press release from the Berkeley Police Department.

Investigators from several law enforcement agencies tied together the robberies, leading to the identification of several suspects. On Feb. 6, four suspects were arrested in San Francisco in connection with a crime at a Walgreens in that city, Berkeley police said. Three of the four suspects have been charged with 29 counts in connection with a series of crimes in Alameda County, including the five thefts in Berkeley, police said. On May 10, detectives served a warrant at the residence of Rosa Jimenez, 43, in the 2000 block of San Leandro Boulevard in San Leandro, and at a nearby storage unit, according to Berkeley police. At the Jimenez residence, officers found a large amount of stolen cosmetics and other items, some still bearing CVS and Walgreen stickers, worth a total of approximately $500,000.

Jimenez and her boyfriend, Enrique Rodriguez, 50, also of San Leandro, were arrested on suspicion of receiving stolen goods and being accessories to a felony. Both were booked into the Berkeley City Jail, according to Berkeley police. Jimenez had been identified during the multi-agency investigation as the person suspected of buying the stolen property from the other suspects, leading to a warrant for her arrest and a search warrant for her residence, according to Berkeley police. The collaborating agencies were the San Francisco District Attorney’s Office Crime Strategies Unit, the San Francisco Police Department, the Organized Retail Crime Task Force that includes CVS, Walgreens and JC Penney investigators, and the Berkeley Police Department.  [For more: East Bay Times]

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Police arrest couple for mall assault in NH

Detectives arrested two people who assaulted loss prevention associates at the Mall at Rockingham Park. Police said the couple stole $686 worth of merchandise, including five pairs of sweatpants and two hooded sweatshirts from Lord & Taylor. In an attempt to evade the LP associates, Lance Holloman, 30, of Boston threw a cup of hot coffee at one of their faces, police said. Holloman was accompanied by Melody Williams, 31, also of Boston, who sprayed a substance believed to be pepper spray, according to police. Each faces two counts of robbery. Capt. Joel Dolan said the excessive use of force related to the throwing of hot coffee and use of pepper spray is included in the robbery charges.

Police said the loss prevention associates observed Holloman and Williams enter the store wearing sunglasses, and that Williams appeared to be carrying a large, empty bag. The loss prevention associates said the man and woman selected seven pairs of sweatpants and two hooded sweatshirts before entering a fitting room together. After leaving two pairs of sweatpants behind, Holloman and Williams left the store, where they were confronted by the LP associates, police said. Holloman and Williams then used the hot coffee and pepper spray to escape the guards and get away, police said. Salem Detective John O’Donnell was able to work with officers from the Boston Police Department to make the arrests, Dolan said. Holloman and Williams were arrested in Manchester Thursday before being turned over to Salem police.  They were arraigned Friday in Salem.  [For more: Eagle-Tribune]

Employee accused in theft of phones from T-Mobile

Police in New Lenox, Illinois, say an employee at a T-Mobile store was charged with theft in connection with a report of 20 cell phones that were missing. Ashley C. Dunlap, 24, of South Holland was charged with theft at 8:15 p.m. on May 9 at the store in the 400 block of Nelson Road. An unidentified caller called police and said that approximately 20 cell phones valued at a combined $15,000 were missing from the store. A police report indicates and investigation led the the arrest of Dunlap, an employee at the store. Dunlap was taken to the Will County Adult Detention Facility.  [For more: New Lenox Patch]

The Starbucks app might be easier to hack than you think

Starbucks was one of the earliest retailers to aggressively promote payments via mobile phone, and their efforts have been wildly successful. A whopping 29% of Starbucks purchases are now made via the mobile app or online. That helps the retailer streamline the checkout process, track customer behavior, and provide coupons and other freebies. But there’s an apparent downside for customers. Reports of scammers taking over Starbucks accounts with relative ease have circulated since at least 2015, and more are cropping up on social media daily, according to recent reports.

While there’s no indication Starbucks’ own servers have been compromised recently, lots of users recycle usernames and passwords from other services. The Starbucks app doesn’t use two-factor authentication—say, requiring a confirmation code sent by SMS—so a hacker who unearths a working username and password can simply pretend to be the user on another phone, in what’s known as an account takeover. That lets the hackers load funds into the Starbucks app from the victim’s credit card or bank account, and then the hackers spend that money. BuzzFeed’s Vanessa Wong (who, herself, was hacked to the tune of $100) pointed out in a recent story, noting a criminal can easily buy gift cards with a compromised account, and then sell those gift cards. Starbucks told BuzzFeed that the level of fraud on the app is very low, describing it as “a tiny fraction of 1%.” They were similarly defensive in a statement to Good Housekeeping, pointing customers to a page outlining online security best practices—most importantly to “use different user names and passwords for different sites.”  [For more: Fortune]

Oklahoma female shoplifter rolls her car, taken into custody

A young female rolled her van Saturday after Police say she was shoplifting at Hobby Lobby in Curt’s Shopping Center. Muskogee PD says the young woman, who has not been identified, fled from Hobby Lobby on 2224 E. Shawnee Bypass and the speed she was traveling led to the crash. They emphasized there was no pursuit of the vehicle at the time.  After the wreck, police took her into custody. No injuries were reported. The incident occurred around midday.  [For more: KRGH2 News]

Credit-debit card fraudsters target the affluent

If you make $75,000 or more a year and have a college degree, you are more likely to receive a credit and debit card fraud alert from your financial institution, according to a new survey report from CreditCards. com. What’s more, despite the best efforts of financial institutions and new security measures, many types of card fraud are still on the rise because criminals have become more devious. The Austin, Texas-based organization’s nationally representative sample of 1,000 U.S. adults surveyed found that 68% of those with annual household income of $75,000 or more have received a fraud alert compared with 40% of those making $30,000-$49,999 and 26% with income under $30,000. The same is true for educational attainment: 65% of college graduates have gotten a fraud notification, compared with 49% who attended some college and 25% who have a high school education or less.

“Fraudsters seem to be swinging for the fences, focusing their efforts on high-value targets,” Matt Schulz, CreditCards.com’s senior industry analyst, said in a prepared statement. “And it’s not only more affluent and more educated households. Credit card limits typically exceed checking account balances. I think that’s why credit card fraud alerts outpace debit card alerts even though debit transactions outnumber credit transactions 2-to-1.”  [For more: Credit Union Times]

Retail earnings expectations: Home Depot and Target

The parade of big retailers sharing their latest quarterly results has begun, and so far those reports have confirmed that the woes in the retail sector have continued. Many more retail earnings reports are expected this week. Among the highlights will be results from big-box store operators Home Depot Inc and Target Corporation  The Wall Street consensus forecast calls for the former to show solid bottom-line growth, as well as a modest gain in revenue, in the period when it shares hit a new all-time high after an earnings beat and dividend hike. Meanwhile, the latter is expected to post smaller earnings than a year ago, along with a revenue decline. In the period, some progress on the e-commerce front was not enough to offset troubling results that sent shares to a multiyear low.

Home Depot
When this home improvement superstore operator shares its fiscal first-quarter results before the opening bell on Tuesday, the analysts on average predict that it will post $1.61 per share in earnings. That compares to the $1.44 per share in the prior quarter and $1.44 a year ago. And the $23.72 billion in expected revenue would be up more than 4 percent year over year. Note that earnings per share topped consensus estimates by a penny or two in the previous two quarters.

Target
Wall Street’s consensus forecast calls for EPS at this Minneapolis-based retailer to have slipped from $1.29 in the same period of last year to $0.91. The 52 Estimize respondents have the same consensus estimate for the three months that ended in April. Note that EPS fell short of both Estimize and Wall Street expectations in the previous period, which included the holiday shopping season.

And Others
Other retailers predicted to offer up year-over-year earnings growth when they report this week include Alibaba, Citi Trends, Dick’s Sporting Goods, Ross Stores and TJX Companies. Per-share earnings at Staples will be the same as a year ago, if the analysts are correct. But consensus forecasts call for shrinking profits from American Eagle Outfitters, Buckle, Cato, Gap, Hibbett Sports, L Brands, Stein Mart, Urban Outfitters, and the biggest of them all, Walmart. And a net loss is anticipated from Stage Stores. The following week, keep an eye out for earnings reports from Abercrombie & Fitch, AutoZone, Best Buy, Costco, GameStop, Lowe’s, Tiffany and more.  [For more: benzinga]

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