Breaking News in the Industry: January 11, 2018

Two sentenced in $65K store theft

Two people charged in connection with the theft of more than $65,000 in merchandise from Bed Bath & Beyond in Martinsburg, West Virginia, over a two-year period were sentenced Tuesday in Berkeley County Circuit Court. Curt David Danner, 50, of Martinsburg was placed on probation for five years and ordered to pay $45,000 in restitution by 23rd Judicial Circuit Judge Laura Faircloth after he pleaded guilty to one count of felony embezzlement. The probationary period was imposed in place of a one- to 10-year prison sentence, which was suspended by the judge. Co-defendant Heather Hutzler, 41, also of Martinsburg, separately entered an Alford plea Tuesday to one felony count of conspiracy to commit transferring stolen property, but adjudication of her case was deferred for three years by the judge. An Alford plea is not an admission of guilt, but an acknowledgment by a defendant that the prosecution has enough evidence to gain a conviction. Hutzler can avoid the possible felony conviction and a maximum one- to five-year prison sentence that comes with the offense if she successfully completes a three-year, probation-like period. If successful, Hutzler instead would be convicted of a misdemeanor count of conspiracy. The maximum sentence for the misdemeanor conviction is up to a year in jail. Danner was an assistant manager at the store at 172 Retail Commons Parkway when the items were taken between January 2015 and December 2016 and sold online, court records said. The stolen items, which were valued at $65,931.72, included 47 Illumnibowl motion-activated toilet night lights, 25 Fitbit Flex wireless activity-and-sleep wristbands and 23 Breville the Barista Express 8-cup espresso machines, court records said. Berkeley County Assistant Prosecuting Attorney Ben Hiller said Tuesday that the prosecution’s evidence in the case included items from the store that were seized from the defendants’ home.  [Source: HeraldMailMedia]

Runaway busted for shoplifting leads cops to sex trafficker

A teenage runaway busted for shoplifting in Brooklyn, New York, led police to a sex trafficker, police sources said Tuesday. The 14-year-old girl allegedly told detectives at the 63rd Precinct station house late Monday that she left her Nevada home for California, where she met a man who forced her into prostitution, there and in New York City. While she was being interviewed, sources said, the suspect, 17-year-old Mark Obeyz, walked into the station house and was arrested. He was charged early Tuesday with acting in a matter injurious to a child less than 17 years old. Detectives assigned to a human trafficking unit are trying to determine if Obeyz was working with anyone else. This is the first city arrest for Obeyz, who lives in Kensington. Sources said he used to live in California. The sticky-fingered teenager was taken into custody after she and a 19-year-old woman were arrested for shoplifting, cops said. The older woman allegedly stole $663 in clothing from the Macy’s store inside the Kings Plaza shopping center. Because the younger girl is a sex crime victim, she was not charged, sources said.  [Source: Daily News]

Police believe 2 brazen shoplifting cases committed by 1 group

Menomonee Falls, Wisconsin, police believe two brazen shoplifting cases — executed by several people in both incidents — are connected.
According to police, the first theft happened at the Kohl’s store located on Appleton Avenue, on Sunday, January 7th. Police say shortly after 6:30 p.m., seven black males and two black females — ranging in ages from 16-25 — fled the store with Nike brand clothing. The group left the scene in three vehicles, two of which were reported stolen from the City of Milwaukee the day earlier.

Menomonee Falls officials say the next day, January 8th, a similar incident happened at the Walgreen’s located on Silver Spring Drive. Police say six black males and three black females — ranging in ages from 16-30 — fled the store with two baskets of merchandise. The suspects left in a maroon Jeep Cherokee SUV and a silver sedan, believed to be the same vehicles from Kohl’s. If you can identify any of the suspects in the photos on their website provided by police, or have any information related to these incidents, you’re asked to contact the Menomonee Falls Police Department at 262-532-8700.  [Source: Fox6 News]

New Texas law allows merchants to refuse sales for credit purchases without ID

A new law in Texas is changing the way merchants do business. SB 1381 allows a business to request government-issued photo identification during a sale. If the consumer doesn’t have a matching i.D. That merchant now has the ability to decline a transaction if they choose.  Due to the implementation of card chip technology and shifts in liability for fraudulent purchases, merchants may now be “on the hook” for some losses. This legislation states that this law will provide merchants with an additional tool to attempt to minimize fraud.  “Well that just didn’t make sense to me,” said Texas Senator Bryan Hughes of District 1, who authored the legislation. “So we were thankful to get a law passed that says any merchant in Texas can ask for your I.D. Now once they look at the I.D. And it matches or doesn’t match, they decide what to do but they should at least be able to ask.” There’s an ongoing concern not only for consumers but also for community financial institutions. Fraudulent debit and credit cards can be utilized in person as well as through internet and telephoner “card not present” transactions. Additionally, lost and stolen credit and debit cards are frequently used by criminals to make purchases before the consumer realizes that his/her card is missing. “But the hope is it will be a deterrent,” said Sen. Hughes. “Right, if you’re going to ask for I.D. And I’ve got a stolen credit card then I am probably not going to try to make that purchase. So it’s just about letting the merchant ask for the I.D. If they have a reason to doubt. ” This also helps banks as well. In most cases, the bank that issued the card ends up taking the loss for the fraud as well as absorbing the costs to reissue the compromised card.  This has been an ongoing and costly frustration for community bankers across the state. It is important to note that there are absolutely no penalties for not requesting validation of identification. It also does not stipulate a shift in liability between the parties. [Source: Star Local News]

Florida police seek help identifying 3 suspects caught on video shoplifting [Viral Video]

Police are asking for the public’s help in identifying three people caught on security camera Monday shoplifting more than $1,000 in electronics from Walmart in Winter Haven, Florida. Jamie Brown, spokesperson for the Winter Haven Police Department, said that two women, a man and a small child came into the store through the garden center and walked to the electronics section. While the women loaded sound bars into shopping carts, the man kept walking, taking the child back out to the parking lot. While he moved the car, a black Chevy Impala, to the parking area outside the automotive section, the women moved on to the electronic toys section and loaded more items into the carts. The women then left the store through doors in the automotive section, making no attempt to pay, according to the WHPD. “A customer sitting in the automotive section immediately alerted an employee, but by the time they got outside, the group had left the parking lot,” Brown said in a news release.
Anyone with information about their identities can post a comment at www.facebook.com/Winter-Haven-Police-Department or make an anonymous report to Heartland Crime Stoppers at 800-226-8477, where callers may be eligible for a cash reward.  [Source: The Ledger]

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