Breaking News in the Industry: March 16, 2018

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$104K meat heist leads to monster cargo theft ring; 11 men arrested, over $1M in stolen goods seized

Nearly a dozen men have been arrested in a cargo theft trafficking ring that used stolen tractor-trailers to move more than $1 million in goods meant for retailers across the country to a New Jersey warehouse, where they were held until they could be sold domestically or overseas, officials said Wednesday. The five-month investigation, dubbed “Operation Botany Strike,” began Oct. 14, when detectives from the New Jersey State Police Interstate Theft North Unit began looking into the theft of a tractor-trailer, which contained $104,000 worth of meat, from a trucking lot in South Amboy. Troopers found the abandoned tractor-trailer later that day at the Vince Lombardi Service Area on the New Jersey Turnpike and began following leads, which ultimately uncovered the organized theft ring.

Over the course of the investigation, detectives found the thieves would transport stolen tractor-trailers from various jurisdictions throughout New Jersey to specific locations within a warehouse in Passaic. That facility served as the predominant location where the suspects would load and offload stolen cargo, as well as store the stolen tractor-trailers, officials said. Detectives also identified secondary locations in Little Ferry and Secaucus that served similar functions. Ultimately, 16 loads of stolen cargo were recovered from 10 national retailers. The seized cargo ranged from clothing and granite to home goods, landscaping equipment and food products, officials said. The suspects range in age from 26 to 60 and all live in northern New Jersey. They all face charges of receiving stolen property and conspiracy; one also faces a charge of fencing, which means knowingly buying stolen goods in order to later resell them for profit.    [Source: NBC4 New York]

2 job applicants linked to $1M theft at marine store

Investigators say two men posing as job applicants are connected to a crew of thieves who stole $1 million worth of equipment from a Florida marine supply store. Broward Sheriff’s spokeswoman Joy Oglesby tells local news outlets that the burglary was carried out over a dozen visits during a weekend in January. The sheriff’s office released a video of men in hopes that someone will recognize them. She says the men applied for jobs Jan. 5. Later that night, thieves broke into a rear cargo door. Surveillance video shows the two applicants walking through the warehouse. Tips that lead to an arrest are eligible for a reward of up to $3,000.  [Source: WFTV9 News]

Off-Duty jail deputy assists in catching alleged shoplifter

An off-duty Chelan County Jail Deputy in Washington state helped catch an alleged shoplifter Monday in Wenatchee. Police Department spokesman, Captain Edgar Reinfeld says the deputy was at the Albertson’s grocery store at around 5:25 in the afternoon when he apparently witnessed the shoplifting and followed the 62-year-old suspect out of the store and into the parking lot. Reinfeld says the deputy appeared to be uninjured in the scuffle with the suspect, 62-year-old Marcus Jaramillo of Wenatchee. He says it is not uncommon for an off-duty cop to intervene when they observe a crime in progress.

“There is no requirement under law or policy even for Wenatchee Police to take action on something like this off-duty, though you would find that in general we may,” Reinfeld said. He says the Wenatchee Police Department sets guidelines for how officers should handle such situations. “Police officers, especially when you’re inside your own jurisdiction, obviously you have authority at all times to make contact and make an arrest,” Reinfeld said. “We certainly hope and by policy encourage but don’t require the carry of restraint and a firearm off-duty along with your badge and I.D. but it’s not required,” Reinfeld said. “We do have a policy that says you cannot be held liable for not taking action off-duty which is not really contradictory to the other policy but all tied together it does leave a lot of discretion to the individual about how to act.”  [Source: NCW Life]

Suspects in lingerie heist crash while fleeing the store

A California man and woman suspected of stealing about $7,500 worth of clothes from Victoria’s Secret were arrested after they flipped their car over while driving in the wrong direction in Menlo Park, Palo Alto police said yesterday. Dreamius Lamont Jones, 22 and Tammara Jalores Malika Roberts, 21, both of Oakland, allegedly scooped up dozens of sweatshirts and sweatpants from the lingerie store at Stanford Shopping Center in Palo Alto sometime on Friday (March 9). A Palo Alto police officer driving in the area while on routine patrol allegedly saw the two running from the mall along with another woman who is still at large. After the trio allegedly jumped into a car registered to Jones, the officer tried to pull them over, but they sped off. The officer got behind the car and watched as it allegedly merged into the bike lane. The cop turned on his lights and siren and followed as the car ran a red light, going almost 75 mph. Once the car crossed into Menlo Park, it allegedly crossed all lanes of traffic and drove over the center median into oncoming traffic. At that time, the officer stopped the pursuit out of concern for public safety and continued in his own lane.As he made a U-turn to head back to Victoria’s Secret to take a report from employees, a citizen flagged him down to alert him that Jones and Roberts had hit another car. The other car had been heading south  when Jones and Roberts allegedly hit his car, flipping their own car on its passenger side. No injuries were reported.   [Source: Daily Post]

Maryland man accused of wielding knife, threatening employees in series of armed robberies

A Maryland man has been charged with a series of armed robberies and burglaries over the past three months in Gaithersburg and Derwood, according to Montgomery County police. Anthony Paul Mackie, 27, was charged with 10 commercial burglaries and three armed robberies, during which he allegedly wielded a knife and threatened employees, according to police.   The burglaries and robberies occurred between Dec. 2 and March 3. Mackie allegedly robbed the Redmill Beer and Wine store, B & B Beer & Wine store, and a 7-Eleven store according to a police press release. He allegedly stole from other Gaithersburg, Derwood and Montgomery Village businesses, including restaurants, auto repair stores and a nail salon. The crime spree came to an end when police officers saw him attempting to steal from Redmill Beer and Wine a third time on March 3 at 5:30 a.m., according to police. They arrested him at the scene. Mackie is facing three armed robbery charges and 20 other charges related to burglary, theft and destruction of property, according to court records. He is being held in the Montgomery County Detention Center.  [Source: Bethesda Magazine]

California lawmaker wants to crack down on organized retail theft by making it a felony

A state assemblyman wants to create a new felony offense to penalize organized retail theft, a crime some have called an unintended consequence of a 2014 ballot initiative that reduced drug possession and some theft crimes to misdemeanors. Under Proposition 47, a theft crime has to involve $950 worth of property in a single incident to rise to a felony. That threshold, some retailers have said, allows members of organized crime rings to steal from multiple stores, or from the same store numerous times a day, without facing tougher punishment. Assemblyman Jim Cooper (D-Elk Grove) first proposed a change last year by asking voters to amend Proposition 47 — which passed with 60% approval — making it a felony to steal $950 worth of property in a year. But after much debate, his legislation was shelved in February in the Assembly Public Safety Committee.

Now its chairman, Assemblyman Reggie Jones-Sawyer (D-Los Angeles), is pushing a bill of his own to tackle the problem. His legislation would make it a crime to work with others to steal goods or buy stolen goods with the intent to sell, exchange or return the merchandise. Under the proposal, organized retail theft would fall under a category of crimes known as “wobblers,” meaning prosecutors are able to charge them as misdemeanors or felonies depending on severity. Jones-Sawyer said his bill, unlike the previous proposal, would address concerns from store owners without stepping back from the overall goal of the voter initiative: to stop counties from incarcerating people for minor or petty crimes that are sometimes tied to mental health or drug abuse issues. Criminals “are going to get together and figure out loopholes…. It doesn’t escape me that is happening, and I am very sensitive to that,” Jones-Sawyer said. “But I also am very concerned [that] we don’t do a shotgun method, where we just lock up everybody.”  [Source: Los Angeles Times]

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