Breaking News in the Industry: August 9, 2017

Florida Sheriff’s Office undercover shoplifting operation leads to 65 arrests

A six-day undercover operation by the Polk County, Florida, Sheriff’s Office deputies resulted in 65 shoplifting arrests during the past week, including several suspects with extensive criminal histories. Businesses in Auburndale, Lakeland, Davenport, Haines City, Mulberry and Winter Haven took part in the effort, including Bealls, Belk, Lowe’s, Target, Walmart and Burlington Coat Factory.

Undercover deputies worked with loss prevention personnel in those stores to identify those who were bypassing scanners in the self-checkouts and leaving the stores with concealed items. Of those arrested, 34 have criminal histories, including 140 felonies and 241 misdemeanor charges. Fifteen were juveniles. The value of the stolen items totaled $4,924, according to the Sheriff’s Office. A warrant was issued for Mark Logan Brents, 50, of Valrico, who fled in a gray 2017 Hyundai when approached by officers at Lowe’s, reports state. His car struck a Sheriff’s Office detective as Brents left Lowe’s, leading to a warrant for aggravated assault with a deadly weapon. [Source: The Ledger]

Victoria’s Secret robbery suspect charged; was part of lingerie theft ring

A woman accused of being part of an East Coast lingerie theft ring was charged Monday for an armed robbery in April of a Victoria’s Secret in Salisbury Township, Pennsylvania, according to court records. Twanika D. Greer, 24, of Baltimore, was one of three women who entered the South Mall store on April 2 and began filling their tote bags with bras, panties and other sale items, authorities said. When confronted by a store manager, Greer allegedly threatened, “better back off or you are going to get maced,” court records show. As she and the other women fled through the mall, she made a similar threat to employees of a sporting goods store who attempted to stop them, police said. The women fled in a sport utility vehicle driven by a fourth person, police said. The store’s regional manager said the women stole $3,038 worth of the store’s Pink brand items.

About a month later, Greer and four others were busted after the theft of $3,000 in lingerie from Victoria’s Secret store at the Berkshire Mall in Wyomissing, Pennsylvania, police said.Police identified the group, all from the Baltimore area, being part of a lingerie theft ring suspected of stealing more than $300,000 worth of merchandise from Victoria’s Secret stores along the East Coast. After the May 22, arrest in Berks, a Wyomissing police officer contacted Salisbury Detective Kevin J. Kress to compare police reports and surveillance footage of the robberies. The store manager at the Salisbury store identified Greer as one of the women in the store who stole merchandise and as the one who threatened to mace her, according to court records. The three sporting goods store employees also identified her as the one who threatened them, police said. No one else has been charged in the Salisbury robbery.  [Source: The Morning Call]

HBO hackers leak top executive’s emails and demand ransom

The hacker or hackers behind the HBO data breach have posted online a publicly accessible link to a cache of internal documents, including a script summary of an upcoming Game of Thrones episode and a month’s worth of emails from the inbox of one of the company’s executives.  The materials, which mark the first evidence that some HBO private emails are in the hands of hackers, came Monday in an email message to The Hollywood Reporter that also contained nine files with such labels as “Confidential” and “Script GOT7.” The hackers also delivered a video letter to HBO CEO Richard Plepler that says, “We successfully breached into your huge network. … HBO was one of our difficult targets to deal with but we succeeded (it took about 6 months).” The Hollywood Reporter is not revealing the contents of the emails or the substance of the leaked Game of Thrones materials, which also includes marketing spreadsheets and media plans for the hit series. It’s unclear if the hackers sent the link to the materials to other media outlets or Game of Thrones fan sites.

While the release of an executive’s emails is an escalation of the HBO attack, it doesn’t necessarily indicate the hackers have access to widespread company emails, as was the case in the 2014 hack of Sony Pictures. On August 2, days after the HBO hack was first acknowledged, Plepler told staff: “We do not believe that our e-mail system as a whole has been compromised, but the forensic review is ongoing.” The confidential folder offers a screenshot of files that largely pertain to Game of Thrones and includes castings, script summaries and marketing materials, including a detailed summary of the episode that is set to air Sunday. In the letter to Plepler, which unfolds as a scroll set to ominous music, the hackers demand money (though the figure is redacted). They also claim that HBO marks their 17th target, and only three have failed to pay.  [Source: The Hollywood Reporter]

Your cellphone can potentially detect a credit card skimmer

As law enforcement agencies continue to come across credit card skimmers at gas station pumps, Texas Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller released a short video with some new tips on how you can avoid becoming an identity theft victim. One tip requires you to pull out your cellphone. According to the state agency, most of the credit card skimmers have Bluetooth technology. When you’re next to the pump, try connecting to Bluetooth and if you see “a long string of numbers trying to connect… then that’s probably not good,” says Miller. The other tips include checking the sticker on the pump to see if it has been tampered with and well as jiggling the credit card slot. “In Texas, we don’t tolerate cattle rustlers, horse thieves or cheats,” Commissioner Miller said in a release. “At the Texas Department of Agriculture, we’re going to do everything we can to protect law-abiding Texans’ personal information at the gas pump.”  [Source: CBS12 News]

How to spot a fake pair of eclipse viewing glasses and keep your eyes safe

The eclipse is only two weeks away, and if you haven’t gotten viewing glasses, now’s the time to get your hands on a pair. But beware: you need to make sure the pair you get is authentic and will genuinely guard your eyes from possible injuries. Only a few seconds of exposure to the sun’s light can cause permanent, life-long damage. Oregon Health & Science University doctors say it’s not only the visible light we should be worried about, it’s the ultraviolet light or high-energy light we need to be very mindful of. “Visible light will send brightness. It’s the ultraviolet light or the high-energy light that is completely invisible that does the most damage,” Dr. Brandon Lujan said. “Someone might notice that there are areas in their vision where they can’t see clearly or that there may be some distortion to their vision and there’s not a treatment for that.” Certified glasses have an ISO logo and numbered labeling, but officials say that’s no longer enough. Many manufacturers of uncertified glasses are copying those logos and printing them on glasses that are not safe to use.

It’s very sad that we have counterfeiters out there. For two bucks they can damage the child’s eye for life,” said Jim Todd with the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry. “It’s really hard to pick out a counterfeit; it’s like with money, it’s hard to pick them out unless you really know what you’re looking for.”Todd says stick with your instincts when purchasing a pair of glasses or viewers. “If something doesn’t seem right, there’s a hole, scratch, it’s missing a logo, a company name you have never heard of before, or who had given them to you, you might want to second-guess it,” Todd said.Here’s what you can do to protect yourself: Check to make sure the dealer is reputable and certified with NASA and the American Astronomical Society; Look for the logo and label; Make sure your glasses have an ISO and a numbered insignia; Inspect your glasses before wearing them; check for bends, tears and holes.  [Source: KATU2 News]

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Baby formula thieves hit South Carolina; Police release surveillance photos

Two people who allegedly stole large amounts of baby formula from several Wisconsin stores including a Walmart in Sparta, South Carolina, are being sought by law enforcement. Sparta police issued surveillance video images of a man and a woman suspected of taking the formula from Walmarts in Sparta, Sturgeon Bay, and Portage. “Your first reaction might be sympathy for these poor folks who are just trying to feed their hungry baby,” Sparta police said on Facebook. “Stop it! That is not what is happening here! They are thieves!”

Baby formula theft is a national problem, and not just for use as baby food. The powdered formula is also used by drug dealers to cut cocaine and heroin. The cans can fetch up to $30 each. “Often these are organized retail theft rings who steal vast amounts of formula, sometimes leaving bare shelves,” the Facebook post said. “This can affect supply and price for honest parents who need the formula for their babies.” Where the thefts have gone ballistic, store owners are locking up baby formula and customers have to ask for it. The two suspects shown in the images hit the Sparta Walmart not once but twice.”They probably are not from Sparta, but if this reaches enough people, they will be identified,” the Facebook post said. “Our police friends in a few other cities would like to talk to these guys also.”  [Source: Wisconsin State Journal]

It’s like ‘The Jetsons’: Walmart adds new “scan-and-go” technology

For those tired of the long lines at big-box retailers, Walmart in Waxahachie, Texas, is providing a new, handheld way to shop. Consumers can now skip the dreaded checkout line and scan as they go with Walmart’s new “Scan and Go” technology. “It’s a very busy store, and we work very hard to make sure we don’t have long lines, but it’s very challenging,” expressed Josh Aston, store managers at the Walmart in Waxahachie. “So this gives us another tool to help our customers, and we’re adding ways to take care of them.” The shopping center officially launched its new addition to the shopper’s arsenal with the ‘Scan and Go’ system on Friday, August 4. The downloadable application can be used either through one’s smart phone or a Walmart issued hand scanner. Both options allow a customer to scan an item’s barcode while they shop.“At the end, click ‘finish’ and scan a QR code on any of the self-checkout registers and it’ll total your whole purchase,” Aston explained. “Or if you link a credit card straight to your “scan and go” app on your phone, you can purchase it straight from your phone and not even go to your register.” “Then you’ll get a bar code, and you’ll still have to go through the front end of the store, and an attendant will scan it and then you’re done, and you don’t even have to touch a register,” he included.

“It appeals more towards the younger generation, absolutely. It’s kind of like ‘The Jetsons,’” she chuckled. Although the technology option may not be for everyone, Aston addresses a recurring question among customers. “Some are concerned about the cashiers, but we’re not getting rid of the cashiers,” Aston confirmed. “Some of the customers don’t want the technology, so we still have cash registers and cashiers to take care of them.” “It’s about providing customers with additional options to shop,” he affirmed. “It allows customers to shop how they want and gives them back some time. Nobody wants to wait in line to purchase stuff, and if you choose to use this technology, then you won’t have to wait.”  [Source: Daily Light]


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