Breaking News in the Industry: February 12, 2018

Police say even they can’t believe how bold these shoplifters were [Viral Video]

Police Detectives in Waco, Texas, are hoping a one minute piece of surveillance video will go viral, so they can catch three females who investigators said stole more than $3,000 in purses and clothing from Marshalls. “The brazenness in this video is amazing,” detectives wrote when they posted the footage on Facebook Thursday. The clip has since been shared more than 1,500 times. In the video, the three ladies can be seen — arms full of merchandise — making a break for it and hustling out the store’s front door. If you recognize any of the suspects in the below video, call Waco Police Detective James at 254-750-3674 and reference case number 18-800074.  [Source: WLTX19 News]

Woman arrested for shoplifting in Wisconsin pleads guilty to Alabama murder

One of three suspects charged in the 2014 disappearance and death of a 53-year-old Holly Pond man pleaded guilty on Thursday. Stephanie Underwood, 33, was initially charged with capital murder during a robbery in the slaying of David Hayes, whose body was recovered early in 2015 in a shallow grave off Buck Ridge Road on Pine Mountain. She pleaded guilty to murder and received a sentence of life in prison with the possibility of parole, said Blount County District Attorney Pamela Casey. In exchange, Underwood will testify against her co-defendants – Matthew Brent Thrasher, 36, and Christopher “Biggun” Jones, 35. Their trial dates have not yet been set. Thrasher and Underwood were arrested in Wisconsin Jan. 13, 2015 when authorities there say they were shoplifting vodka and energy drinks. Wisconsin police realized the couple was in a stolen car, and later found human blood in that stolen car. That shoplifting arrest turned launched the bizarre murder investigation. Initially they were charged with petty theft, resisting or obstructing an officer and retail theft in Wisconsin. In Alabama, they were charged with first-degree theft of property until Casey upgraded the charges for all three to capital murder. Jones was arrested in Alabama.  [Source: AL.com]

NJ man, accomplice used stolen credit card info in $76K fraud scheme

A Jersey City man was sentenced to five years in prison for using phony credit and debit cards to buy more than $76,000 in gift cards at the local Stop & Shop, according to the Office of the Attorney General. Clifford Dominique, 25, of Jersey City, was sentenced to five years in prison by Hudson County Superior Court Judge Paul M. DePascale on Friday, and was ordered to pay restitution of $58,000 to Ahold USA, Inc., which operates Stop & Shop supermarkets and was the primary victim of the fraud scheme, authorities said. Ialicia C. Epps, 29, of Jersey City, a co-defendant, was also sentenced to two years probation and ordered to pay $4,500 in restitution. Authorities say Dominique used numerous phony credit and debit cards that were illegally manufactured using stolen account information from legitimate credit and debit cards in various countries, including Canada, Poland, Lebanon and Macedonia.

Dominique approached Epps, who was a cashier at the Stop & Shop in Bayonne in 2015, and offered to pay her if she would assist him in making purchases at the store using the phony debit and credit cards, authorities said. Dominique recruited Epps so he could make the purchases without arousing suspicion and could evade the dollar limit that the store had in place on credit and debit transactions. In fall of that year, Dominique went to the Stop & Shop in Bayonne on various dates and presented the phony credit and debit cards to Epps to process 182 fraudulent transactions totaling approximately $76,790. He purchased “open loop” gift cards that can be used to make purchases anywhere. The investigation began with a referral from Ahold USA, Inc., which conducted an internal investigation. The Division of Criminal Justice and the Bayonne Police Department then charged them in an investigation. “Phony plastic is a growing problem, with criminals, including gang members, buying stolen credit card information on the dark web and manufacturing fake cards,” said Attorney General Gurbir Grewal. “This sentence sends a strong message that we will aggressively prosecute this type of fraud.”  [Source: NJ.com]

Suspected shoplifter, LP associate have violent encounter [Viral Video]

A Viral Video showing a violent encounter between a suspected shoplifter and a loss prevention associate in the Belk store at SouthPark Mall in Charlotte, North Carolina,  A police report showed that officers were called to the store around 2:30 p.m. Thursday for a shoplifting case. The suspect, identified as Rosemary Paige, walked out of the store with concealed items and then back into the store, according to the police report. The video shows the loss prevention associate trying to detain Paige, but things escalate quickly when the loss prevention associate won’t let her go. Witnesses said Paige told the officer to let her go and he eventually punched her in the face.  “Even though she is 100 percent in the wrong, I don’t believe it had to go to that extent,” one customer said when we showed them the video.

Channel 9 contacted Belk about the incident, and a spokesperson said Paige did not comply when the officer tried to detain her. The spokesperson said Paige bit the officer and the physical contact was done in order to stop her from biting him.  “Security officers, loss prevention associates, can detain until police arrive,” attorney James Wyatt said. Wyatt said security officers can use reasonable force to detain a shoplifting suspect.  “The question here is really punching a lady, if that is appropriate or not, given the interaction,” Wyatt said. That would be a question for the courts, if Paige decides to take civil action in the case. Paige was arrested and charged with simple assault and misdemeanor larceny. Channel 9 was told that if she’s found guilty, that could impact any civil case she files later   [Source: WSOC News]

Sheriff’s helicopter helps nab 3 suspected thieves in cellphone store heist

Armed thieves swiped dozens of cellphones from an AT&T store in Santa Ana, California, but they didn’t get very far, thanks to a sheriff’s helicopter that just happened to be on patrol in the area.
 Police said two men walked into the store on 17th Street shortly before 9 p.m. as it was about to close.

”Two suspects entered the store, one had a shotgun, they had their faces covered with bandanas, they ordered the clerk into the back room,” said Cpl. Anthony Bertagna with the Santa Ana Police Department.

The clerk did not suffer any injuries, authorities said.

The thieves stuffed a bag with more than 40 cellphones while holding the clerk at gunpoint. Police said the two men took off in an awaiting car driven by a third suspect.

”Fortunately Duke was up, they were able to locate the vehicle, they followed the vehicle until they got off in the city of San Juan Capistrano,” Bertagna said.

Duke, the Orange County Sheriff’s Department helicopter, followed the car to Ortega Highway, where sheriff’s deputies pulled it over. All three suspects were arrested.

Deputies found a shotgun and the phones in the car. The men booked for the robbery are: 21-year-old Andy Lopez of Riverside; 18-year-old Alex Perez of Chino; and 20-year-old David Martinez of Mira Loma.

Police said cellphone store robberies like this are on the rise.

”Phones are expensive, and these suspects are taking the phones and selling them at swap meets, on the street,” Bertagna said. Santa Ana police are now checking with Los Angeles and Riverside counties to see if this crew might be linked to other similar crimes in the area.

Officers are crediting Duke’s pilots for the arrests.

”Without them, in this particular case, we probably wouldn’t have caught the suspects,” Bertagna said.  [Source: ABC7, Eyewitness News]

Citing fraud, L.L. Bean imposes limits on its return policy

L.L. Bean’s generous return policy is going to be a little less forgiving: The company, which has touted its 100 percent satisfaction guarantee for more than a century, is imposing a one-year limit on most returns to reduce growing abuse and fraud. The outdoor specialty retailer said returns of items that have been destroyed or rendered useless, including some purchased at thrift stores or retrieved from trash bins, have doubled in the past five years, surpassing the annual revenue from the company’s famous boot. “The numbers are staggering,” CEO Steve Smith told The Associated Press. “It’s not sustainable from a business perspective. It’s not reasonable. And it’s not fair to our customers.” L.L. Bean announced Friday that it will accept returns for any reason only now, it is just for one year. The company is also imposing a $50 minimum for free shipping as part of a belt-tightening that includes a workforce reduction through early retirement incentives and changes in workers’ pension plans. The Freeport-based company joins a list of other retailers that have been tightened return policies. Outdoors retailer REI, which was once jokingly dubbed Rental Equipment Inc. and Return Everything Inc. because its unlimited returns policy, imposed a one-year restriction five years ago. Other retailers have been narrowing the window for returns or imposing new conditions.

L.L. Bean’s announcement in a memo to employees and in a letter to customers represents a seismic policy shift for a 106-year-old company that used its satisfaction guarantee as a way to differentiate itself from competitors. Leon Leonwood Bean, the company’s founder, is credited with launching the policy when 90 of his first 100 hunting shoes were returned. He earned goodwill by returning customers’ money, and he came back with a better boot. Thus the satisfaction guarantee was born. But the merchant never intended for his satisfaction guarantee to become a lifetime replacement policy, company executives said. Abuse of the generous return policy with no time limit has accelerated thanks to people sharing their return stories on social media, they said. The family-owned company is prepared for a backlash, but the changes honor the spirit of the founder’s original guarantee, said Shawn Gorman, L.L.’s great-grandson and the company’s chairman. Internal surveys indicate 85 percent of customers are OK with the new return policy, he said. “There is no one in this family who would’ve allowed this to happen if they thought that L.L. would be upset with us, like, if he would be rolling over in his grave,” Gorman said. The news drew a mixed reaction on social media, with some excoriating the retailer and others saying the change is justified. Maine native Justin Franz recalled that virtually all kids returned to school each fall with a brand-new backpack from L.L. Bean when he was a kid. He said he learned later in life that some of those backpacks were being returned every year for the latest model. “It was bound to happen,” the Montana resident said of the end of unlimited returns. “It doesn’t change my opinion of the company at all. I understand why they’re doing it.” Over the past five years, the company has lost $250 million on returned items that are classified by the company as “destroy quality,” said L.L. Bean spokeswoman Carolyn Beem. [Source: San Francisco Chronicle]

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