Breaking News in the Industry: June 8, 2018

Suspect charged after leaving a child in hot truck during robbery

A Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin, man is charged after police say he robbed a store while leaving a young child in a hot pickup truck. Michael Raskie Jr., 35, is facing several counts including neglecting a child, possession of meth, and retail theft. It happened at Gordy’s Market in Chippewa Falls. According to the criminal complaint, Raskie went into the store, grabbed a bottle of alcohol and left the store without paying. As officers arrived, they reviewed surveillance video which directed them to a truck parked on Bay Street. When they approached the truck, a four-year-old was sleeping in the truck. The complaint says it was about 80 degrees outside and the child had been left for about 40 minutes. It says the truck was running with the windows rolled down, but the child was extremely warm. Officers took the child out of the heat. As they searched the vehicle they found a pipe that tested positive for meth.   [Source: WEAU13 News]

Identity theft and credit card fraud spree leads to three years in prison

The third of three Cuban nationals was sentenced to three years in federal prison on May 30 for using at least 54 stolen identities and card numbers to make fraudulent purchases. 21-year-old Liliany de Armas Mena, a Kentucky resident, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit access device fraud and aggravated identity theft. 36-year-old Pedro Alvarez Rodriguez, a Florida resident, was sentenced to 42 months in prison, and 27-year-old Dunieski Santana Moreno, also a Florida resident, was sentenced to 40 months in prison following guilty pleas to the same offense.

Information presented during the court hearing showed that de Armas Mena, Alvarez Rodriquez and Santana Moreno used fraudulent credit cards with at least 54 “skimmed” account numbers to buy gift cards and gift card reloads at Wal-Mart stores across the state of Iowa. The scheme involved evading detection by authorities by moving across county borders. De Armas Mena, Alvarez Rodriguez, and Santana Moreno visited Walmart stores in 16 different counties across Iowa over the span of four days in January and February 2017.

Alvarez Rodriquez was previously convicted in Cuyahoga County, Ohio in 2015 following a separate incident involving the use of counterfeit cards and stolen account numbers at a Walmart. Santana Moreno was previously convicted in Sumter county, South Carolina in 2015 for financial transaction card theft. “Identity theft plagues Americans and financial institutions across the country and has a real impact on people’s everyday lives,” United States Attorney Peter Deegan said. “We will continue working with our law enforcement partners to protect innocent Iowans from these schemes and hold the perpetrators accountable.” U.S. District Court Judge Leonard T. Strand sentenced De Armas Mena to 36 months in prison and two years of supervised release following the prison term. All three have been ordered to make $5,655.08 in restitution to the victims.  [Source: KCRG9 News]

Employee pepper-sprayed in failed theft

Police in Alpharetta, Georgia, are searching for a suspect who they say pepper-sprayed a man in a failed robbery attempt weeks ago. The suspect attempted to steal two phones and a phone case from the Apple store at Alpharetta’s mixed-use development, Avalon, police said. Police say the suspect requested to buy the two phones and the case, but then tried to steal them when an employee was preoccupied. When an employee grabbed the bag, the suspect pepper-sprayed him.

“It’s not very common, but sometimes things do happen. We’re lucky it didn’t end worse than it did,” Jeff Ross, a spokesman for the Alpharetta Department of Public Safety told Channel 2 Action News. The employee suffered minor injuries, but managed to grab the bag. The suspect fled on foot, empty handed. Police say there is surveillance footage of the suspect getting into an SUV outside the store. The investigation is ongoing.   [Source: Atlanta Journal Constitution]

Attempted robbery suspect arrested

The man accused of trying to rob a Wilmington department store and threatening an employee with a box cutter is behind bar in North Carolina. Wilmington Police say they went to serve a warrant on Richard Blane Murphy. Police spokeswoman Jennifer Dandron says officers went to several addresses searching for Murphy. When they finally found him, he took off and ran into the woods in the College Acres area. Dandron says Murphy was then taken into custody. The arrest comes two days after the attempted robbery at Kohl’s.

Police say Monday morning, Murphy left the store without paying for merchandise. When a loss prevention associate approached him, Murphy allegedly showed an orange box cutter and threatened to cut the LP associate. Murphy then dropped the merchandise and left on a gray bicycle.

Murphy is charged with the following:
• Robbery with a dangerous weapon attempt
• Habitual larceny
• Resist/delay/obstruct public officers
• Speeding to elude arrest with aggravating factors
• Aggressive driving
• No operators license
• Expired registration card/tag

He is in the New Hanover County Detention Center under a $98,100 bond.   [Source: WWAY3 News]

Ex-state lawmaker pleads guilty to shoplifting

A former Illinois lawmaker arrested on a shoplifting charge has pleaded guilty to misdemeanor retail theft. Former state Rep. Sandra Pihos of Glen Ellyn entered the plea Monday. Her sentence includes 50 hours of community service and a year of court supervision. She released a statement afterward, however, saying her arrest last year was the result of a misunderstanding. She says she entered the plea to “put this awful matter behind me.” Authorities say she stole nearly $600 in women’s clothes from Von Maur in Lombard’s Yorktown Shopping Center before trying to return the stolen items for cash or store credit on the same day. The Republican served in the General Assembly from 2003 to 2015 and was on several committees, including one that focused on consumer protection.   [Source: The State Journal-Register]

Flagship store in landmark fifth Avenue building to close

Lord & Taylor, the nearly 200-year-old department store, will close its flagship Manhattan location, which is housed in a landmarked Fifth Avenue building. Women’s Wear Daily reports that parent company, the Hudson’s Bay Co., is “suffering same-store sales declines across most of its divisions” and “pressing ahead with trimming costs and its stores… HBC revealed the planned closure of the L&T flagship as the group reported a net loss of 400 million Canadian dollars, or $308 million, for the first quarter ended May 5, compared to a 221 million Canadian dollars, or $170 million, in the year ago period.”

Last year, Hudson’s Bay sold the building to WeWork for $850 million, with the co-working behemoth looking to make the location its headquarters. When that deal was announced, the NY Times reported, “Lord & Taylor will rent the bottom floors, redesigning them into a smaller version of its department store.” “After evaluating best use scenarios for its New York City Fifth Avenue location, the Company has decided not to maintain a presence at this location following turnover of the building to WeWork. Exiting this iconic space reflects Lord & Taylor’s increasing focus on its digital opportunity and HBC’s commitment to improving profitability,” a Hudson’s Bay press release states.

Now it’s unclear whether Lord & Taylor will have a NYC presence (or charming holiday windows); Hudson’s Bay is closing another 9 stores. The company’s CEO Helena Foulkes said, “We will take advantage of having a smaller footprint to rethink the model and focus on our digital opportunities. The Lord & Taylor flagship on Walmart.com, which launched last week, is a great example of this and represents how we are thinking about the entire business.”

The power of online shopping has made a major dent in many retail stores’ prospects. Tim Grumbacher, who liquidated his 262 Bon-Ton department stores, told the Wall Street Journal, “If I had had the foresight to realize I had to blow up the [department store] model, I would have.” In an interview, he said “he would have subleased space to other companies, added more services like blow-dry bars and narrowed the product assortment. He says consumers don’t want to shop in cavernous department stores anymore.”  At a shareholder presentation last summer, Macy’s announced it would add a roof deck to its Herald Square store, to entice shoppers to linger.   [Source: gothamist]

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