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Breaking News in the Industry: February 17, 2017

Store employee indicted on theft of more than $250,000 in merchandise

Craig W. Sullivan, a former employee at Gribbles Running Store in Kansas was charged today with stealing over $275,000 worth of equipment. The 41-year old was also charged with multiple accounts of wire fraud and mail fraud.  The former employee was in charge of redistributing equipment from the main store on to the other four locations. Sullivan is believed to have stolen mostly Garmin running watches. The stolen products then would be sent to an accomplice in California, who would in turn sell the items on eBay.  A total of 51 payments were made to a PayPal account belonging to Sullivan, amounting to $275,780. He faces up to 20 years in prison if convicted.

A federal grand jury on Wednesday returned an indictment that charged Sullivan with 10 counts of wire fraud and three counts of mail fraud, U.S. Attorney for Kansas Tom Beall said in a news release. The indictment alleges the crimes occurred while Sullivan worked for Garry Gribble’s Running Sports, which has five locations in the Kansas City area. According to Beall, Sullivan oversaw merchandise that arrived at the main store in Overland Park and was responsible for distributing it to the other locations. The indictment also alleges Sullivan stole merchandise, mainly Garmin GPS running watches — and sold them to an individual in California who operated an online business on eBay, Beall said.

Sullivan shipped the stolen items to California via the U.S. Postal Service and received payment via PayPal. According to the indictment, Sullivan received 51 payments totaling about $275,780. If convicted, Sullivan faces up to 20 years in federal prison and a fine of up to $250,000 on each count. The U.S. Postal Service investigated the case, and assistant U.S. Attorney Chris Oakley is prosecuting.  [For more: CJonline]

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Two shoplifters threw hot coffee and pepper sprayed loss prevention at NH mall

Two alleged shoplifters threw a hot cup of coffee and pepper sprayed loss prevention at Lord & Taylor, officers said. Loss prevention personnel from the store located at the Mall at Rockingham Park reported to police that they had been pepper sprayed by two alleged shoplifting suspects.

Loss prevention said their attention was drawn to a man and a woman who walked into the store because they were wearing sunglasses inside and the woman appeared to be carrying a large, empty bag. The pair selected seven pairs of sweatpants and two hooded sweatshirts before entering the same fitting room, loss prevention said. The pair then left the fitting room, but only two pairs of sweatpants were left behind.

Loss prevention followed the couple out of the store and into the mall and attempted to stop them. The man allegedly threw a hot cup of coffee into the face of one of the loss prevention officers as the woman yelled at the man to close his eyes. The two loss prevention officers were then sprayed with a substance they believed to be pepper spray.

The two suspects fled in an unknown direction through the mall with $686 worth of merchandise and have not been identified at this time. Anyone with information regarding this incident is asked to contact Detective John O’Donnell at 603-890-2381.  [For more: NH1]

LP Worldwide:  Chinese police seize $120 million of counterfeit cosmetics

Chinese police have seized a huge haul of counterfeit cosmetics, including ones labeled as Chanel, Christian Dior, L’Oreal SA, Lancome and Estée Lauder, with a combined street value of around 827 million yuan ($120 million). Police forces in the eastern city of Taizhou busted seven underground dens earlier this month and seized over 1,200 boxes of the counterfeit make-up, local authorities said late on Wednesday via an official Sina Weibo microblog.

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Police identified the counterfeit cosmetic gangs last year after reports of fake Amway products being sold online. The country has been trying to step up a crackdown on fakes, with authorities opening more than 170,000 intellectual property infringement and counterfeit product cases last year and arresting nearly 20,000 suspects.  [For more: Hamodia]

New Mexico close to data breach bill

New Mexico’s House of Representatives passed a data breach bill on Wednesday night by a unanimous vote, according to the Grant County Beat. Bill 15, known as the Data Breach Notification Act, was sponsored by Rep. Bill Rehm (R-Bernalillo). It will require service providers to put in place reasonable procedures to safeguard personally identifying information (PII) of its customers.

As well, the legislation would mandate that providers alert consumers whose PII may have been affected by an incursion. Should more than a thousand accounts be exposed, providers would be required to notify the Attorney General’s Office and consumer reporting agencies no later than 45 days subsequent to the discovery of a breach.

“New Mexico is one of three states that do not have a data breach notification law,” said Rep. Rehm. “Our laws have not kept up with the pace of technology. This bill will remedy a gap in our existing consumer protections and put us on par with other states.”  The bill now moves on to the state’s Senate for ratification. In March 2015, a similar bill – also sponsored by Rehm – stalled when the Senate Judiciary Committee twice voted to not pass along the proposed legislation to the Senate floor.  Alabama and South Dakota are the remaining two states without a law requiring consumer notification following a security breach involving PII.  [For more: SC Magazine]

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Shoplifting suspects crash stolen car, get away on foot

Police say three shoplifting suspects got away after running from police, crashing a stolen car and fleeing the scene on foot in the Tysons, Virgina,  area Wednesday night. Shortly after 9 p.m. Wednesday, officers received an alarm activation at Bloomingdales in Tysons Corner Center, police said. As they were driving up to the store entrance, police say they saw three men running to a parked car with what appeared to be merchandise.  The car took off and the officers attempted a traffic stop. The driver did not stop and a pursuit began, police said. The pursuit ended when the suspect vehicle crashed. All three suspects ran from the car on foot.

During the pursuit, the suspects sideswiped another car on the road. The driver of that car was not injured. No one else was injured and no other damage was incurred.  The suspects were described as black, in their early 20s. One was wearing a hooded sweatshirt, blue jeans and red and black shoes. Another was wearing a gray sweatshirt and blue jeans; he had short hair. The third suspect had a goatee and was wearing a dark-colored sweatshirt. Police say they believe all of the merchandise was recovered.  [For more: Mclean Patch]

500 caught each year shoplifting at Arizona Walmarts

With two stores in Prescott and one in Prescott Valley, police spend a lot of time responding to Walmart. Certainly, shoplifting is a major reason, but there are others.  PVPD Sgt. Jason Kaufman said police make more than 500 arrests every year at the Walmart in the 3400 block of Glassford Hill Road.  Prescott Police spokesman Dave Fuller said that there had been about 230 calls for service at the Walmart in the 3000 block of Highway 69 and more than 260 to the one in the 1200 block of Gail Gardner Way.

He pointed out that theft of another sort goes on as well. “Sometimes, people go into Walmart with a whole bunch of old receipts and grab a shopping cart,” he said. “Then they walk around the store … locate items on the old receipts, then go to customer service, and return the items they did not buy” for cash or credit. “This is beyond shoplifting,” Kaufman noted. “It is fraud.”  “No retailer is immune to the challenge of crime,” said Walmart corporate spokesman Ragan Dickens. “We recognize the importance of this issue at the highest levels of the company, and we are investing in people and technology to support our stores.”

One way they’re doing that, Dickens said, has been to implement programs like one Walmart calls Restorative Justice. It’s in effect in more than 1,500 stores, working with two Restorative Justice providers — the Corrective Education Company and Turning Point Justice, who in turn partner with NASP (National Association for Shoplifting Prevention). The program offers first-time, low-risk offenders a second chance to make things right by participating in an educational course in lieu of prosecution. The recidivism rate among those who go through Restorative Justice is just 2 percent to 3 percent, Dickens said. “We’re encouraged by a 35 percent reduction in calls to law enforcement agencies nationwide, on average, since we began implementing Restorative Justice and other crime deterrence programs,” Dickens said. [For more: The Daily Courier]

Nordstrom Is Nation’s Favorite Fashion Retailer, New Study Finds

Nordstrom’s fan base is as fervent as ever. For the fifth time in a row, Nordstrom ranked as the nation’s favorite fashion retailer in an annual retail industry study conducted by Market Force Information (Market Force). Market Force polled over 10,000 consumers for the study, which ranks top fashion retailers, reveals retail technology trends and looks at spending plans and habits.

Nordstrom, which has built a reputation for incomparable customer service, ranked first among the retailers studied with a score of 64 percent, up 6 percent from 2016. Dillard’s made even larger strides from last year, gaining 16% percentage points to rank second with 54 percent, and was closely trailed by off-price retailer T.J. Maxx, which earned a 53 percent score. Ann Taylor and Nordstrom Rack landed in the top of the rankings, after not making the cut last year, tying with Kohl’s for fourth place.

Consumer confidence is high, with 40 percent believing the economy will strengthen in the next year, whereas 31percent think it will weaken and 28 percent think it will stay the same. That said, approximately 70 percent of consumers expect to spend the same amount on apparel and footwear this year compared to last, and just 11 percent plan to spend more.

The survey was conducted online in December 2016 across the United States. There was an overall pool of 10,714 respondents covering all four U.S. Census regions. Within the survey pool, 7,241 reported shopping for fashion at a favorite retailer within the past 90 days, and 5,494 reported shopping for shoes within the past six months. There was a broad spectrum of income levels, with 54 percent indicating incomes of over $50,000 a year. Respondents’ ages ranged from 18 to over 65. Approximately 75 percent were women and 25 percent were men. [For more: Market Force]


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