Breaking News in the Industry: January 10, 2018

K9 Gunnar tracks down theft suspect who fought, bit, threatened store employees

Saturday night several Spokane, Washington, deputies responded to a theft call where the suspect took off after she fought, bit, and threatened store employees. Ladarion M. Roberts was eventually tracked down and charged with three felonies. It happened just before 8 p.m. Spokane Valley deputies responded to the ShopKo, located at 13414 E. Sprague for a reported theft. Loss prevention associates said a woman, later identified as Roberts, entered the store, picked up several items, including a prepaid cell phone and several makeup items, as she walked around. Roberts went into a dressing room with all the items, but when she came out, she didn’t have the phone or makeup. The employee checked the dressing room for the items, but didn’t find them. She attempted to pay for other items, but her credit card was declined and she left the store. the LP associates followed Roberts outside, identified themselves, and attempted to take her back to the loss prevention office in the store. Deputies say Roberts refused and became combative, pushing, hitting, kicking and even biting one of the employees. She also threatened to mace them and yelled she had a gun during the encounter, then she ran off on foot. After viewing store security video, Deputy Wang recognized Roberts and confirmed her identity by matching video with a previous booking photo.

The deputy provided Roberts’ description via radio to patrol cars in the area. A short time later, Deputy Wilson spotted a purse hanging on a fence which matched the description of the one Roberts was carrying when she ran from the store. Deputy Hunt and K9 Gunnar arrived and began tracking Roberts in the area where the purse was found. Fresh footprints in the snow were observed as Gunnar led the deputies to an unsecured back door of a house on McCabe, just north of Sprague. K9 warnings were given with a response. As deputies worked to obtain a search warrant, a resident of the home was contacted. The resident said he did not know Roberts, and he did not give her permission to enter his house, but gave deputies permission to enter and search for her. K9 Gunnar was deployed on a lead in the house. He located a black coat and new makeup lying on the floor before leading deputies to a closet. Additional K9 warnings were given and went unanswered. The closet door was opened and K9 Gunnar went in. He made contact with Roberts who was hiding under a pile of blankets and other items. Roberts initially failed to comply with deputies’ demands, but soon surrendered and was taken into custody without further incident. Roberts was provided medical attention before being transported and booked into the Spokane County Jail for Robbery 1st Degree, Burglary 1st Degree and Resisting Arrest.  An additional charge of Possession of a Controlled Substance-Methamphetamine was added after a white crystalline substance was located inside Roberts’ purse, which tested and showed a presumptive positive result for methamphetamine. [Source: KHQ Q6 News]

Google “free bikes” stolen by the hundreds each week

Stroll through Mountain Valley, Calif., and you’ll probably notice some funky-looking bikes out and about. Red baskets, yellow frames, and green-and-blue wheels are telltale signs you’re looking at a “GBike.” And if you do see one, there’s a good chance it’s stolen. That’s according to a Wall Street Journal report claiming the complimentary campus bikes for Google employees go missing at a rate of up to 250 per week. According to the report, Google has generally written off the pedal-pilferers. But the uptick in theft has the Silicon Valley behemoth adding GPS trackers, hiring a bike recovery team, and – for the first time – considering locks. Google’s enormous Mountain View campus plays home to about 1,100 of the multi-colored GBikes. That’s because the company’s sprawling left-coast headquarters comprises more than 3.5 million square feet of office space alone. Needless to say, the bikes are tantamount to a necessity for the 20,000 employees stationed there.

But the brand has so far resisted security, opting instead for convenience and a “Don’t Be Evil” culture (after its famous former motto). Despite posted instructions explaining how and where the bikes should be used, the colorful cruisers continually wander off campus. Employees report bringing them home for the night, while locals say it’s not uncommon to find the bikes left in their yard. In fact, two of the Gbikes found their way atop the roof of a local pub. In light of the ongoing malfeasance, Google hired a retrieval team that scours the streets around Mountain View and pick up wayward sets of wheels. Plus, Google last year began installing GPS trackers in its bikes. Since then, the company discovered missing Gbikes traveled as far away as Fairbanks, Alaska, and on down to Mexico. In all, Google estimates it successfully recovers about two-thirds of the bikes. While it doesn’t put a dollar estimate on replacing lost bikes, similar cruisers retail between $100–400. Hopefully, Google can update its bike security as well as its browser security.  [Source: GearJunkie]

Ohio man stealing items swings knife at LP associate

Columbus police are looking for a man they say pulled a knife on a loss prevention associate at The Mall at Tuttle Crossing. Police said the loss prevention asssociate stopped 30-year-old Shain Barrett around 9 p.m. as he left the Macy’s store with a $100 jean jacket and three watches. As the officer tried to handcuff him, Barrett fought back and grabbed a knife from his pocket according to police. Police said Barrett swung the knife at the officer and ran away. Police said Barrett has been known to be homeless in Columbus and his last known address was West Main Street in Plain City. Police ask anyone with information on where Barrett may be to call the Columbus Division of Police robbery unit at 614-645-4665.  [Source: 10TV WebNews]

Hundreds of counterfeit Air Jordans seized

In what could be called the case of the seven parcels, federal customs seized what they said were 400 pairs of counterfeit sneakers. Various models of Nike Air Jordan sneakers arrived in separate air cargo shipments and were seized “near Dulles International Airport,” U.S. Customs and Border Protection said. They said the parcels were to go to an address in Northern Virginia. According to the customs agency, the sneaker shipments began in December. The final seizure was made Jan. 2, customs said. According to the federal agency, the suggested retail price, for authentic sneakers like those seized was $54,715. Customs officers examine imports as a matter of routine, and suspected that the items in question were not genuine, authorities said. They said they checked through the trademark holder to determine that the sneakers were counterfeits.  [Source: The Washington Post]

Toy firm fined $650,000 over data breach

Electronic toymaker VTech will pay $650,000 to settle charges that it failed to protect the privacy of children using its gadgets. The US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) levelled the charges at VTech following a data breach in 2015. While investigating the breach, the FTC found the firm had broken US laws governing the way data about children is gathered. The FTC said VTech also “failed to take reasonable steps” to secure that data., VTech gathered a lot of data about children via its Kid Connect app that was bundled in with many of the electronic toys it makes. Almost 650,000 children downloaded the app and used it in conjunction with VTech’s educational toys. The app collected personal information but did so without seeking consent from parents or telling children what data was being collected and the uses to which it would be put, said the FTC. VTech’s poor data security practices meant a security researcher could get at the firm’s network and take personal information which included customers’ names as well as email addresses, it added in its complaint. The hacker was also able to get at an internal database that held copies of encryption keys that, if used, would have let an attacker view photos and audio files uploaded by children and parents.

VTech was unaware that its network had been penetrated and data taken until it was contacted by a journalist. “As connected toys become increasingly popular, it’s more important than ever that companies let parents know how their kids’ data is collected and used and that they take reasonable steps to secure that data,” said Maureen Ohlhausen, acting FTC chairwoman, in a statement. “Unfortunately,” she added, “VTech fell short in both of these areas.” As well as paying the financial penalty, VTech has pledged to uphold US child data protection laws in future. It has also agreed to improve its security practices and will be subjected to regular independent data and privacy audits for the next 20 years. In a statement, VTech said parents were left in no doubt about the type of information being collected about children and were able to decide who they talked to via the app. It said it collected data only to help users of its products to communicate with each other, not for marketing purposes. Marc Rotenberg, president of the Electronic Privacy Information Center which campaigns on privacy issues, welcomed the FTC’s action but said the penalty could have been levied more swiftly. “This is good news that the FTC finally took action but we feel like they are moving too slow and clearly following and not leading,” Mr. Rotenberg told the New York Times.  [Source: BBC News]

Apple’s flagship Chicago retail store wasn’t designed to handle snow

Apple’s new flagship retail store in Chicago, the one with a MacBook-shaped rooftop, is nothing short of an architectural marvel. At least, that’s how some news reports put it when the store opened back in October. Beyond standing out among the less inspired buildings of the downtown Chicago area, the new Apple Store also happens to be very poorly thought through considering its thin roof now has dangerous icicles hanging perilously over public walkways. The deadly ice daggers have forced the closure of those spaces, as pointed out by local blogger Matt Maldre and reblogged by Daring Fireball’s John Gruber. As Maldre explains, the fancy building design, while seemingly in service of Apple’s new “town square” ideal for its retail stores, doesn’t seem to have been designed for the actual city it’s located in. “Maybe next time Apple will consider the actual community where their stores are built,” Maldre writes. “Y’know, basic things like in Chicago, the weather gets cold. It snows. The snow falls off the roof. Don’t design a slopping roof where the snow can’t be caught or guttered off somewhere.”  [Source: The Verge]

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