Breaking News in the Industry: June 7, 2018

Retail loss ‘shrinks’ in 2017

Retailers are making progress when it comes to fighting criminal activity and lowering their shrink rates. Thefts, fraud and losses from other retail “shrink” decreased to $46.8 billion in 2017 from $48.9 billion the year before, according to the annual National Retail Security Survey released today by the National Retail Federation and the University of Florida.

According to the data, shrink averaged 1.33% of sales, down from 1.44% the year before. A total of 59% of retailers surveyed said shrink was flat or decreasing, up from 51%. Only 41% said shrink was growing, down from 49%. “Retailers are making progress in combating criminal activity, but there are still many challenges,” NRF VP of loss prevention (LP) Bob Moraca said. “Whether the threat is coming from cybersecurity, organized retail crime or employee theft, the job for retail security teams continues to become more difficult every day, especially when resources and staff are limited.”

Shoplifting and organized retail crime continued to be the leading causes, accounting for 36% of losses. This was followed by internal employee theft (33%), administrative paperwork errors (19%) and vendor fraud or mistake (6%). The most substantial losses per incident came from retail robberies, at an average $4,237.02 each (down from $5,309.72 the year before), followed by employee theft at $1,203.16 (down from $1,922.80), and shoplifting/ORC at $559 (down from $798.48).

For the first time in the survey, retailers were asked about their role in combating cybercrime. Two-thirds of LP executives said they meet at least quarterly with IT/cybersecurity counterparts to discuss potential threats, and 86% said their companies have a cybersecurity incident response plan in place. Cybersecurity concerns are top-of-mind for retailers today as criminals continue to become more sophisticated in this area,” said Richard Hollinger, a veteran University of Florida criminology professor and the lead author of the report. “This is a growing threat that will require more resources going forward. Retail executives need to invest more in loss prevention to reduce these losses to their bottom line.”
   [Source: Chain Store Age]

Three plead guilty to fraud scheme that preyed on victims in at least 15 states, Canada

Three people with ties to Northwest Indiana have entered guilty pleas in US District Court to their roles in a four-year fraud scheme that preyed on victims in at least 15 states and Canada. Temika L. Coleman, 40; Vincent Prunty, 34; and Gemico T. Childress, 43, — the three defendants — all are from Hammond and have past connections to Whiting, Crown Point, Chicago and Calumet City. Coleman and Childress are siblings and Coleman has a child with Prunty, records show. All three attended the same school.

From September 2012 through December 2016, the three allegedly devised a scheme to defraud several victims by obtaining personal identifying information — including birth dates, social security numbers and existing credit cards. They did this to open fraudulent accounts, and make ATM withdrawals and in-store purchases in Northwest Indiana and Illinois, among other offenses, according to a March 2017 grand jury indictment. During this time, the three successfully submitted multiple online fraudulent credit card applications without victims’ knowledge from the same computer IP address on Waltham Street in Hammond for personal gain, court records show. They targeted victims in Northwest Indiana; Salt Lake City, Utah; Carol Stream, Illinois; Delaware, Ohio; Orlando, Florida; Chester, Pennsylvania; Canada, and more, records show. Because of the seriousness of the offenses, Coleman, Prunty and Childress each face a maximum of 42 years in prison, 7 years supervised release and be required to pay $750,000 in fines, court records state.   [Source: NWI Times]

Suspect stole blank checks, cash drawers from 2 stores

Deputies with the Houston County Sheriff’s Office picked a Conroe, Texas, man up from the Limestone County Jail Tuesday and brought him back on a bench warrant in connection with allegations that he broke into two convenience stores and stole signed blank checks and cash drawers. Clifton Wiley Burns, 42, is still being held in the Houston County Jail on third-degree felony organized retail theft between $30,000 and $150,000 charge. He also has felony burglary of a building and evading arrest with a vehicle with a previous conviction or serious bodily injury charges from another county.
No bond amounts have been set for his charges.

Chief Deputy G.P. Shearer with the Houston County Sheriff’s Office said that Burns broke into two convenience stores, one in Ratcliff and one in Latexo, in the period from October 23 to 24 in 2017 by smashing in the front doors. Burns allegedly stole signed blank checks from Lakeside Grocery in Ratcliff. Shearer said that after the checks were stolen, someone attempted to cash them at various locations. At the second location, The Hot Spot in Latexo, Burns stole two cash drawers, Shearer said.   [Source: KTRE9 News]

Traffic stop solves baseball glove thefts

A fake car registration tab led to two Sacramento, California, men getting arrested on suspicion of shoplifting almost $3,000 in high-end baseball gloves from a Fairfield sporting goods store Thursday, according to Vacaville police. A Vacaville police officer patrolling the Premium Outlets spotted a car with what looked like fake registration tabs. The car tried to slip into a nearby parking lot, only to be stopped by the officer. The two men inside, Joseph Seeger, 39, and Travis Quigley, 36, had suspended drivers’ licenses, according to police. Seeger was on Post-Release Community Supervision for a firearms violation from Sacramento and Quigley was on felony probation from Placer County for conspiracy.

A search of the car uncovered numerous high-end baseball gloves, all of which had the finger lacing cut in the area where theft-deterrent sensors are often placed, according to police. Scissors, wire cutters and a magnet device were also found. Neither Seeger nor Quigley could provide a good explanation as to how they obtained the gloves, or why they were all cut in such a specific fashion, according to police. Officers called local retail stores and soon discovered DICK’S Sporting Goods in Fairfield recently had a large number of high-end baseball gloves stolen.

Police learned store employees were working with other stores throughout the Bay Area that had been victims of similar thefts with remarkably similar suspects. The Fairfield store had surveillance video showing Quigley and Seeger tampering with the gloves and taking them from the store without paying, police report. The value of the stolen gloves was $2,805. Both were initially booked into Solano County jail on suspicion of felony grand theft, possession of stolen property and burglary. Quigley also faced an allegation that he violated his probation.  [Source: Daily Republic]

New Colorado law sets 30-day requirement for data breach notification

Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper signed bipartisan bill HB18-1128, “Protections for Consumer Data Privacy,” officially setting in place some of the most stringent requirements for personal information data disposal and data breach notification in place in any U.S. state. The new law requires organizations to maintain a policy for disposing documents with consumer data and notify Colorado residents of any potential personal information exposure no later than 30 days after discovering a data breach. The 30-day notification window does not provide for any specific exemptions and is the shortest of any state. The Colorado regulation is set to take effect Sept. 1.

The law additionally expands the state’s definition of “personally identifying information” and requires organizations to provide Colorado residents affected by data breaches with the estimated date of the breach and a description of what information was likely accessed. Ballard Spahr partner David Stauss, who was part of the drafting process for the bill, noted that the expanded definition of “personally identifying information” raised objections from organizations guided by federal law restricting release of medical information. While Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) regulations require that organizations disclose potential data breaches within 60 days, Colorado’s new standards for personal information now requires HIPAA-guided organizations to comply with its 30-day window.

Colorado’s law joins data breach notification laws now in place in all 50 states. Most states require that organizations notify state residents in a reasonable amount of time, but don’t mandate a specific time frame. “Of the states that have picked time frames, most have gone with 45 [days],” Stauss noted. “What Colorado wanted to be was extremely proactive on the time frame notice. They wanted to have a time frame that was reasonable, but was also appropriate to the risks involved.” He said his firm is telling clients to get procedures to comply in place now. “You can’t spend two weeks trying to figure out how to conduct an investigation. That’s not a prompt investigation,” Stauss noted.   [Source: Legal Tech News]

Third booze shoplifting arrest for Stamford woman in three months

A Connecticut woman has been charged for a third time in as many months for stealing expensive bottles of alcohol from liquor stores. A Stamford judge has ordered Tasha Peele, 46, held in lieu of a $10,000 court appearance bond for her latest two charges of sixth-degree larceny. According to two arrest affidavits, police were called to the BevMax liquor store in the Ridgeway shopping center for a shoplifting report on April 24. Police were shown security camera footage from eight days before of a woman grabbing a large bottle of Patron silver Tequila off the shelf and putting it into her black bag.

Police said the woman paid for another bottle of liquor and several mini bottles, but left the store without paying for the $89 bottle of Tequila. Corner Wines and Liquor on Selleck Street reported a shoplifting incident on May 8. Police were shown security footage of the same woman pulling two bottles of Grey Goose Vodka off the shelf and putting them into a black bag she was carrying on her shoulder. She then removed two bottles of Buchanan Whiskey from the shelf, putting one in her shoulder bag and the other in a black plastic bag she pulled out of her shoulder bag, the affidavit said. Police said the video then showed the woman grab two bottles of E&J Brandy near the unmanned register before walking out of the store with $214 worth of alcohol. The affidavit says Peele was also for stealing bottles of E&J Brandy from the same store on Feb. 15 and Feb. 17. Police said they identified Peele as the suspect from the videos.   [Source: Stamford Advocate]

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