Breaking News in the Industry: April 22, 2016

Soda Theft Escalates into Altercation, Felony Charges

A confrontation between an 18-year-old and the manager of a McDonald’s over a $1.49 stolen soda ended with the young man hitting the manager with his car – not once, but twice. The alleged soda bandit now faces felony robbery charges. Cody Morris and two friends attempted a classic switcheroo at a McDonald’s in Springdale, Arkansas on Monday. All three were in Morris’ car when they ordered free large-size cups of water from the drive-thru window, walked into the store, dumped the water and filled their cups with soda, KHBS reported. The manager at the McDonald’s recognized the trick and told the suspects to return the sodas. He claims that only Morris did not, which resulted in a scuffle after the teenager walked out and got into his car to drive away.   Photo: Reuters  [RT.Com]

Women Arrested after Stun Gun Used During Shoplifting Incident

An employee of a store was shocked with an electronic stun gun when he tried to stop a suspected shoplifter Saturday, police said. Two women were arrested after they were caught stealing merchandise from the Spencer’s Gifts store in the mall, police said. One did not fight with the store employee who stopped them, according to the Saratoga County Sheriff’s Office. The other, identified as Madison E. Gardiner, 17, of Stillwater, used an electronic stun gun to shock the employee and then fled the store, police said. She was caught later Saturday, driving on Route 9P in Stillwater, in possession of marijuana and a bottle of wine, police said. Gardiner was charged with felony robbery and misdemeanor counts of criminal possession of a weapon, petit larceny, obstructing governmental administration and numerous lesser charges, police said.
[Post Star]

Cyber-Thieves Rush to Steal Data Before Chip Technology Sets in

Cyber-thieves see new credit card chip technology being adopted by U.S. retailers closing a lucrative window of opportunity to steal your data. So they want to move fast. “We’ve actually seen a number of discussions, in some cybercrime communities, where they’re reacting to that and saying, ‘OK, we have a limited number of opportunities to continue these attacks and we need to take the maximum advantage,”’ said John Miller, director of ThreatScape Cyber Crime at iSIGHT Partners, which was acquired by FireEye Inc. in January. Retailers were supposed to join banks and payment processors in switching to chip readers by Oct. 1 of last year or face liability for some fraudulent charges that occur in their stores. Yet most payment terminals can’t read the new technology, and demand for devices and services surpasses supply. [Bloomberg Tech]

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Secret Service Links Recent Oakland Raids to Multi-State Counterfeit Cash Scheme

More than a month after federal and state agents raided seven Northern California locations allegedly associated with a $5 million counterfeiting operation, the U.S. Secret Service has linked the investigation to a previous case, in which a group of East Bay residents traveled the country spending tens of thousands in counterfeit cash reportedly produced by the same source. In late February, a coordinated team of federal and state authorities conducted seven simultaneous raids in Alameda County and Stockton, arresting at least one suspect and seizing boxes of evidence related to a counterfeiting operation that authorities say has been active since at least 2012. The Secret Service estimates that this operation has flooded California with at least $1.25 million in counterfeit cash in each of the past four years. [Mercury News]

Wage-Theft Investigation Ends with Nearly $1.2 Million Judgment Against La Hacienda Restaurant Chain

The La Hacienda Hotel Chain systematically stole more than $500,000 in wages from 119 employees between 2011 and 2014, a U.S. District Court judge ruled Monday. Under Judge C. Weston Houck’s judgment, each of the affected employees will receive his or her wages owed plus damages, which in one instance exceeds $60,000. The total mandated payout is $1,179,045. “Our investigation of these 13 Charleston-area restaurants found many low-wage employees working long hours without any overtime compensation and, at times, earning wages far below the federal minimum wage,” said Jamie Benefiel, director of the division’s Columbia office. “Labor violations like these are unfortunately all too common in the restaurant industry.”
[The Post and Courier]

Target Boosting Minimum Pay to $10 Per Hour

Target, and all retailers, are currently in the spotlight as attention is drawn to a surging political movement to raise the federal minimum wage to $15 per hour. But wage hikes like this could balloon a national chain’s labor costs, which is already more than half of a typical retailer’s general and administrative expenses, according to Bain & Co.  Retailers like Target and Wal-Mart have spent millions on tech improvements in the past year, which haven’t always translated to good results. Employees, meanwhile, may be a retailer’s most important investments.z “I would say that employees are not your greatest cost,” Brett Wickard, founder and president of “lean retail” software solutions firm FieldStack, told Retail Dive. “The right employees are your greatest asset and absolutely an investment in your organization.”
[Retail Dive]

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