Breaking News in the Industry: November 15, 2017

Forty credit card fraud victims linked to gas pump

A warning today for Gilroy, California, residents who may be victim’s of a scam. Police say a credit card skimmer device was found hidden inside a gas station pump. Dozens of victims have come forward, including Carina Brandon.  “Chase called me. It was $500 taken out Saturday and $500 taken out yesterday,” said Brandon. Brandon says $1,000 was withdrawn from her bank account, after she swiped her card at this pump, at the Valero gas station at First and Westwood in Gilroy. She says one of her coworkers reported $700 was stolen as well. Police say it’s a crime migrating from Southern California to the north. Gilroy police sergeant Jason Smith was asked if he’s seen this kind of thing before? “It’s pretty rare down here, in southern California it’s pretty prevalent,” said Smith, outside his department’s headquarters. Gilroy police said Monday, at least 40 victims came forward, filing complaints of credit and debit card fraud. And that number could grow. Investigators found a card skimmer similar to this, installed inside a gas pump. They say it could have been hidden for over a week collecting thousands of victim’s information.  “We tend to think that it might be either a crew or somebody with a lot of local contacts that are willing to come and take these credit cards and make purchases,” said Sgt. Smith. He says detectives have traced fraudulent purchases and unauthorized withdrawals spread over the South Bay.

“The size of device is getting smaller. it’s not like before….so he or she can install it,” said San Jose State University professor Ahmed Banafa. Banafa says technology maybe a way of combating this technologically driven crime, which collects and stores card information until wirelessly downloaded by thieves. Some smartphone apps can detect the Bluetooth signal given off by a hidden skimmer… “That’s the indication that something is going on with that reader,” Banafa said. Gilroy police are tracing the long list of crimes in hopes of tracking the thieves. “We’re still panning trough everything to make sure we don’t have an additional device out there,” said Sgt. Smith. This, as some customers bitten once by crime are now twice shy about swiping their cards. “That’s why I went inside and paid this time. so that’s what I’m gonna do now. I’m never gonna put my cards in these machines anymore,” said Carina Brandon, who has nothing but distrust for gas station credit card readers. Gilroy police stress people who have used this gas station over the past one-to-two weeks should check their account statements. And if possible, when filling up look at the pump to see if it’s been tampered with.  [Source: Fox2 News]

Police officer watched on surveillance video as three women committed thefts

Three Corpus Christi, Texas, women were arrested on theft allegations Saturday at Walmart after a police officer, present on an unrelated call, watched their activities on a surveillance video, police said.
 Sandra Garza, 47, Patricia Saldana, 29 and Melissa Urquia, 42, were booked on charges of organized retail theft over $100 under $750 and fraudulent destruction, removal or concealment of writing, Brown County Jail records state.
 Urkquia was also charged with possession of a controlled substance, and Saldana was additionally charged with possession of marijuana, drug paraphernalia and controlled substance. 
According to a report by Brownwood officer Robert Lehman:
Lehman was at Walmart on an unrelated call when a loss prevention associate received a phone call from a self-checkout employee.

The employee believed some customers were attempting to under-ring the items in their shopping cart, and the loss prevention associate showed Lehman the live action surveillance video of a self checkout register.
 Lehman saw the woman remove unscanned items from a cart and place them in Walmart bags. The women placed the bagged items in another cart without scanning them, and tried to hide them by placing scanned items on top of them. The women also scanned items for which they paid and left the store.
With the assistance of officer Noe Acosta and Cpl. Ray Slayton, Lehman stopped the women and detained them for a theft investigation. Walmart employees inventoried the stolen items, which were valued at $209.
 While inventorying the items, employees found five mugs with bar code stickers that belonged to cheaper items in the store.
Police inventoried two of the women’s purses and found several pills in one of the purses, and marijuana and methamphetamine in the other purse, Lehman’s report states.  [Source: Brownwood Bulletin]

Store owner facing felony charge related to alleged counterfeit goods operation

The Johnson County District Attorney’s Office has charged 65-year-old So Wun Pak of Mission, Kansas, with felony counterfeiting charges stemming from operations at her Johnson Drive shop, Sue’s Accessories. Johnson County Sheriff’s Department officials raided the store and took Pak into custody. Law enforcement officers spent hours collecting what they say is counterfeit trademarked merchandise including purses, wallets and jewelry. Pak was booked into Johnson County Jail on Thursday and is being held on $25,000 bond. In addition to the felony counterfeiting charges, she faces a misdemeanor charge of deceptive marketing practices. Johnson County District Court associates a date from this past March with both charges, suggesting the investigation into Pak’s operation has been going on for some time. Pak has no criminal history in the Johnson County court system.  [Source: Shawnee Mission Post]

Employee caught on camera stealing nearly $4,000 in iPhones

A Target employee confessed to stealing four iPhones valued at nearly $4,000 after he allegedly took the phones over a three month period. The theft was reported Saturday at the Bluffton Target when an employee reviewing surveillance footage noticed the employee slip a iPhone 8 into his pocket while unloading a delivery truck on Oct. 31, according to a Beaufort County Sheriff’s Office report. On Friday, the employee once again saw the man taken an iPhone while unloading a truck before continuing to work. The next day, the man was spotted once more taking two iPhones, the report said. When the employee confronted the alleged thief, the man admitted to taking the iPhones and said he had been doing it over the previous three months. The total value of the phones was $3,899.99. A deputy reviewed the surveillance footage and also saw the man take the phones. The man told the deputy the same story and added that he had sold an iPhone 8 and one iPhone X, but that the two remaining phones were inside his vehicle. He returned them to the store, was issued a trespass notice and promised to turn himself in if he was served a warrant for the alleged theft, the report said. [Source: The Island Packet]

Police chief cutouts in stores to further deter shoplifting

Crime rates may be falling in Green Bay, Wiscinsin, but the number of police chiefs rose dramatically Monday.  As part of a shoplifting-prevention effort that began last year, the Green Bay Police Department is rolling out a new anti-theft initiative that features nine life-size cutouts of Green Bay Police Chief Andrew Smith.  There are two different cutouts. One is of Smith standing and smiling. The other depicts Smith with a “mean” look on his face and his finger pointing in disapproval. Most of the cutouts include the message, “Win a free ride in a police car by shoplifting from this store.” The cutouts, created by ColorTech of Wisconsin Inc., are being displayed at various stores throughout Green Bay starting this holiday shopping season. The Green Bay West Lions Club covered the cost of the cutouts. A few, reserved for Festival Foods stores read, “Festival Foods works proactively with the Green Bay Police Department to make this store safe and free from criminal activity.” “What we’re trying to do here is give people reminders that shoplifting affects all of us and that the Green Bay Police Department is taking shoplifting and retail theft very seriously and will leave no stone un-turned to hold those people responsible who are out shoplifting from basically all of us,” Smith said during the rollout of the campaign on Monday. ” The idea for the cutouts came from Capt. Todd Lepine, who was charged by Smith with finding additional, out-of-the-box ways to reduce crime. He said a life-size cutout grabs people’s attention.

The light-hearted initiative is part of a broader effort to reduce shoplifting, which police have identified as the city’s most-reported crime. Last year, police shifted away from a policy of issuing shoplifters citations in the parking lots of stores. All shoplifters are now handcuffed and taken by squad car to the police station, where they’re photographed and fingerprinted.  Shoplifting reports for the year to date are down 16 percent from last year, when 500 cases were investigated from Jan. 1 through Nov. 13. This year, police have investigated 432 shoplifting complaints.” “And that’s just the people who actually get caught,” Smith said. He said many shoplifters get away, that or thefts go unreported. In 2016, the average shoplifter was caught stealing $133 in merchandise.  In a recent incident of retail theft at a shop on Broadway, Smith said, a woman stole a  pair of socks after paying for other items with a credit card. Police were able to use the credit information to find out where she lived and arrest her for shoplifting. The anti-theft cutouts serve as a reminder of the consequences, Smith said. “We want people who might be thinking about shoplifting to see these (cutouts) and think, “It’s not worth it. It’s not worth it shoplifting in Green Bay.”   [Source: Green Bay Press-Gazette]

Suspect charged in $35,000 October jewelry store robbery

A suspect has been charged in the in the October 21 jewelry store robbery at Dalzell Jewelers at 41 N. Williams St., according to a press release from the Crystal Lake Illinois Police Department. Cordall Robinson, 19, of Cedar Rapids, Iowa, was charged with retail theft and aggravated battery public way, both class three felonies. The robbery was at about 3:05 p.m. according to the press release. Police allege that Robinson walked into the store and asked to see some certain jewelry. While being shown the jewelry, he took two trays of diamond jewelry and fled, striking an employee on the way out. The employee’s injury didn’t require medical attention. He got into the passenger seat of a four-door silver or gray Pontiac, which was last seen going northbound through an alley towards Woodstock Street, the press release said. Robinson and the driver are alleged to have stolen about $35,000 in jewelry from the store. Robinson’s bond is set at $20,000. Police are still looking for the driver of the Pontiac.   [Source: Crystal Lake Patch]

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