Breaking News in the Industry: July 17, 2017

Shoplifting suspect dead after fleeing into traffic

A Sicklerville, New Jersey, man suspected of shoplifting fled into Route 42 and was struck and killed by a car, State Police said Saturday. At about 3 p.m. Friday, troopers responded to the northbound side of Route 42, near mile marker 7.6, for reports of a pedestrian who had been struck by a vehicle.  The victim, identified as 25-year-old Donte Bryson of Sicklerville, ran into the roadway and was struck by a black Chevy Blazer traveling north, State Police said. An investigation revealed that Bryson was attempting to flee the Gloucester Premium Outlets after being suspected of shoplifting, authorities said. Police reported that the driver of the Chevy was not injured in the crash and is working with police in their investigation.  [For more: NJ.com]

Alleged shoplifting leads to drug charges

A pair of shoplifted $14 earrings led to three people being arrested on drug charges on July 6. According to a report from the Conyers, Georgia, Police Department, officers were dispatched to the Kohl’s on Dogwood Drive about 1:45 p.m. in reference to a shoplifting in progress call. When they arrived, the store loss prevention associate (LPA) advised she had seen a female shoplift a pair of earrings. The female was accompanied by a male.  The LPA said she had been surveying the store when she noticed the couple walking around the store, with both of them pushing shopping carts. She said she watched the female select a pair of earrings from a display stand, then kneel down and remove the earrings from the packaging. Both suspects then left their carts in the store and walked out. The LPA reported the pair got into a gray 2007 Suzuki SX4 backed into a parking spot near a hedgerow in the parking lot, and that there was a second male in the vehicle with them. When the first officer arrived, he reported seeing the suspects’ vehicle leave its parking space. The officer followed and activated his emergency lights and the driver pulled into a parking space and stopped.

While the first officer was speaking to Wingo, a second officer reported seeing a digital scale on the back passenger side floorboard where the female was sitting, and a glass pipe with white residue on the front passenger floorboard where the male was sitting. The male was identified as Cord Matthew Lambert, 30, of Thomasville, N.C., and the female was identified as Danielle Nicole Shelton, 30, of Athens. After running Shelton’s name through GCIC, it came back with a warrant for her arrest from Walton County. Shelton was removed from the vehicle, handcuffed and searched. A pair of earrings was allegedly found in her shirt pocket. The LPA later confirmed the earrings were the ones taken from the store. The officer had the driver, identified as James B. Wingo, 27, of Gainesville, exit the vehicle. The officer explained why he had stopped them, and Wingo allegedly said he knew nothing about the shoplifting, had only known the other two for a couple of days, and that the vehicle belonged to his girlfriend, so he had no knowledge of what could be in it. Following the search of the vehicle, Wingo was handcuffed and searched. A small plastic bag containing a crystal-like substance believed to be crystal methamphetamine was allegedly found in his front left pants pocket. All three suspects were transported to the Rockdale County Jail. All three were charged with two counts of possession of controlled substances, possession of a controlled substance with intent to distribute, and possession of drug-related objects. Shelton was also charged with shoplifting[For more: The Citizen]

3rd suspect arrested in Florida convenience store armed robberies

A 32-year-old man was arrested in connection to a series of June armed convenience store robberies Sunday morning, the Collier County Sheriff’s Office said. Melvin Presley, 32, of the 4400 block of Rose Avenue in East Naples, Florida, is facing charges of armed robbery, grand theft, aggravated battery, and grand theft with a firearm in relation to two armed robbery cases, according to deputies. Bond has not been set. Jeremiah Vasquez, 34, of Francis Avenue in East Naples, and Crystal Pages, 28, of Winifred Row Lane in Golden Gate, were also arrested on June 30, and are accused of robbing Rose’s Food Mart and 7 Food Mart at gunpoint, deputies said.

They face armed robbery and grand theft charges for the alleged involvement. Vasquez faces additional armed robbery, grand theft and aggravated battery associated with an armed robbery charges. Presley is accused of involvement in the armed robberies on June 18 at the 7 Food Mart on 2332 Santa Barbara Boulevard and June 30 at Rose’s Food Mart on 1808 Santa Barbara Blvd, according to deputies. The involvement of all three suspects in connection to two armed robberies in East Naples remains under investigation, deputies said. The alleged armed robberies took place on June 10 at Rose Supermarket 6026 Radio Road in East Naples and on June 12 at K Square Food Mart at 11466 Tamiami Trail E. in East Naples. It’s unclear when Presley appear in court.  [For more: Wink News]

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US retail sales drop 0.2% in June vs 0.1% increase expected

US retail sales unexpectedly fell in June for a second straight month, which could temper expectations of strong acceleration in economic growth in the second quarter. The Commerce Department said on Friday retail sales fell 0.2 percent last month, weighed down by declines in receipts at service stations, clothing stores and supermarkets. Americans also cut back on spending at restaurants and bars, as well as on hobbies. May’s retail sales were revised to show a 0.1 percent dip instead of the previously reported 0.3 percent drop. Retail sales rose 2.8 percent year-on-year in June. Excluding automobiles, gasoline, building materials and food services, retail sales slipped 0.1 percent last month after being unchanged in May. These so-called core retail sales correspond most closely with the consumer-spending component of gross domestic product.  [For more: CNBC]

Singing servers accused of stealing nearly $400K

Manhattan, New York, prosecutors are probing whether dozens of show tune-singing servers at Ellen’s Stardust Diner altered checks and tap-danced off with the cash. The owners of the famed Broadway tourist trap claim 59 former employees “engaged in a prolonged pattern of stealing money” to the tune of nearly $400,000 in a scheme known in the restaurant industry as “soda shuffling” or the “floating drink,” according to court papers. The servers, actors and actresses who would belt out Broadway standards in between slinging cheeseburgers and shakes, made off with a few hundred dollars to tens of thousands of dollars each before they were finally canned, according to a Manhattan federal court countersuit. One waiter, an actor name Zechariah “Zech” Azazi, allegedly “stole at least $38,167.34” during a four-year period, the papers charge. Abby Burke allegedly pocketed $18,069.17 over six years. The servers and other staffers in the complaint worked at the restaurant for years, coming and going in between landing roles on Broadway, summer stock or cruise ships.

The “Stardusters,” as they call themselves, strut on the backs of the red-vinyl booths and toss out straws to the diners, who are also showered in confetti. But the servers say the family atmosphere at the eatery that changed in early 2016 when a new management team came on board. The Stardusters began a union-organizing effort that they contend angered management and the restaurant’s owner, Ken Sturm, and led to mass firings in September 2016 and January 2017. The axed workers publicized their firings on social media using the hashtag #StardustFamilyUnited. But the owners’ new counter-suit shows that the firings came two months after Ellen’s says it was tipped off to the “soda shuffling” scheme by an employee. It brought in consultants who reviewed 10 years worth of records and the diner’s computerized point of sale system that tracked each server’s daily activity, court papers say

In order to rip off the restaurant, a server would record a commonly ordered item such as a soda in the computer system and present the customer with the correct check, according to court papers. After the diner paid, the server would remove the item from the order in the computer system by shifting it to someone else’s bill. The server would pocket the cash difference between the real and doctored bills. The same soda or coffee would travel from bill to bill throughout the day as the server would grab the money each time, legal papers charge. The diner “has turned its findings over to the Manhattan District Attorney’s office and is cooperating with its investigation of the matter,” Patrick McCarthy, a lawyer for Ellen’s, told The Post. The DA’s office declined to comment. Meanwhile, the diner’s countersuit is the legal retort to a class-action lawsuit filed by workers in December 2016. The employees’ suit contends that Ellen’s wrongfully required servers to share their tips with other workers, failed to pay them overtime and, in some cases, withheld a portion of their tips. Ben Dictor, a lawyer for the group, said Ellen’s owners are serving up the theft accusations “to chill other people’s participation” in the class-action lawsuit. A National Labor Relations Board hearing is set for September to decide whether the workers were canned for cause or as payback for union organizing activity. [For more: New York Post]

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