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Breaking News in the Industry: March 27, 2017

Deputy justified in shooting shoplifting suspect

A Georgia prosecutor says a sheriff’s deputy will not face charges for fatally shooting a shoplifting suspect during a struggle last fall. Bibb County District Attorney David Cooke said at a news conference Thursday that Larry Matthews grabbed pepper spray from Bibb County sheriff’s Deputy Greg Ussery and used it on the deputy. That was when Ussery shot Matthews.

The prosecutor said Ussery had already shocked the suspect with a stun gun and was trying to restrain him as they grappled at a Family Dollar store in Macon. Cooke said several witnesses to the Oct. 7, 2016, shooting, including friends of the suspect, backed up the deputy’s account. He said one witness told investigators Matthews had been drinking and smoking crack cocaine earlier in the day. [For more: Golden Isle News]

Several Central Michigan University freshmen charged in string of store thefts

Five of six Central Michigan University students suspected in a string of store thefts were arraigned in Gratiot County this week, with more charges expected in Isabella County. A sixth suspect is expected to be arrested and arraigned as detectives with the Gratiot County Sheriff’s Office wrap up an investigation into shoplifting complaints that span multiple stores in both counties. Three 18-year-old men, Alexander Hicks, Jacob Herman, and Miguel Arrendondo, along with two 19-year-old men, Anthony Montante and Chad Sellers—face one charge each in Gratiot County of third degree retail fraud theft and one charge each of conspiracy to commit retail fraud, said Gratiot County Sheriff Doug Wright. All five were arrested and arraigned, and each released from jail after posting 10 percent of a $5,000 bond, Wright said. All but Montante are currently listed as freshmen on Central Michigan University’s website.

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Police opened the investigation after video footage from security cameras in the Alma Walmart showed six young men enter the store then split into groups in the middle of last month. Each group then walked around the store and stole numerous items including four XBox controllers, six apple TVs, work boots, Nike shoes, cell phones, hunting knives and more.

The six looked to be college-aged and investigators enlisted help from both CMU and Alma College, determining all were students at CMU, Wright said. Search warrants were executed by the sheriff’s office and CMU police on a number of residence halls on CMU’s Mt. Pleasant campus and many of the stolen items were located, Wright said. Investigators also discovered that items were stolen from the Walmart in Mt. Pleasant, along with Meijer, Target and Kmart. The five men turned themselves in to the Gratiot County Sheriff’s Office and charges are pending in Isabella County as well, Wright said, while the sixth arrest is expected soon.  [For more: The Morning  Sun News]

Multiple suspects attempt burglary at Rolex store inside Bellagio

One of three suspects was arrested early yesterday after shots were fired during an attempted burglary at a Rolex store on the Strip Police said an attempted burglary was reported about 12:50 a.m. at an unspecified store at Bellagio Hotel & Casino. Video and pictures on social media show the suspects at the Rolex store. Initial reports indicated an active shooter, a report that turned out to be false, according to the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department.

LVMPD detectives have determined that no shots were fired. The suspects gained entry into the jewelry cases by using sledgehammers. It is believed that the sound of the hammers striking the jewelry cases caused people to believe that gunshots were being fired. The suspects had their faces concealed by masks and fled from the casino. Officers were able to take one person into custody and the investigation ongoing. Metro says five to seven suspects were involved in the attempted burglary. They were dressed in tuxedos and had masks. One person has been detained, but it is unknown if he was involved. It is unknown if they stole any items. Metro continues to investigate, said Lt. Mark Lourenco.

A statement from MGM Resorts said: “Bellagio would like to thank our guests and employees for their calm and responsible response to the overnight incident at our resort. We would also like to extend our appreciation to the men and women of the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department for their swift response and arrest of a suspect. ” There were no injuries.  [For more: News3 LV]

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Chronic, affluent Kansas shoplifter gets prison time

An affluent suburban Kansas City woman with a history of shoplifting was sentenced Friday to a year and seven months in prison for her thefts of tens of thousands dollars of items, often peddled out of her nearly $1 million home. Kelli Jo Bauer, 47 and of Overland Park, Kansas, was also ordered in Kansas’ Johnson County to pay more than $22,000 in restitution to merchants.

Bauer had two prior Johnson County theft convictions when she was charged in 2015 with felony theft. That prosecution came after police found stolen merchandise in her home during a search prompted by her Facebook posting for the private sale of more than 1,000 pieces of “high-end” women’s clothing. Bauer showed undercover officers clothes, many with tags still on them, hanging on a rack and folded on a bed in an upstairs bedroom, according to court records. Bauer told the officers that she was selling the items because she was a “compulsive shopper” and had lost weight, the court documents said. The officers bought several items, including what Bauer said was a fake Louis Vuitton bag for $50. As part of the investigation, detectives also followed Bauer and said they saw her stealing items from several stores.  [For more: The Topeka Capital-Journal]

Four men were running a cargo theft ring. A Florida man is the last suspect standing

A Broward County man remains on the loose out of a quartet of convicted felons suspected of running a north Florida cargo theft ring. The Florida Attorney General’s office says authorities are searching for Juan Carlos Castaneda Quintana, 45, who they suspect was one of the drivers that stole semi-trucks and trailers full of beer, energy drinks, refrigerators and power tools for Jacksonville’s William Shepard Ellison. Pedro Hernandez is already serving time on a two-year grand theft rap. Miami’s Lewis Dominguez, 33, is being held for federal law enforcement on a different case.

After the three stole the trucks, they’d drive them to Shep’s Chicken House Auction and Shep’s Discount Store in Jacksonville, where Ellison offered the stolen stuff for sale, police say. The Attorney General’s office says a search warrant turned up stolen goods in both businesses. Quintana is 5-7, 184 pounds. He spent seven months in prison during 2015 and 2016 for marijuana trafficking under 2,000 pounds and grand theft.The 70-year-old Ellison sits in Orange County Jail on two conspiracies to commit racketeering (RICO) charges. His bond is $850,000.  [For more: Miami-Herald]

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US Agents Seize 40,000 counterfeit condoms in Puerto Rico

U.S. federal agents have confiscated 40,000 items that consumers hope are never fake: condoms. The counterfeits were seized in San Juan, Puerto Rico, officials said. The condoms were manufactured in China, according to a US Customs and Border Protection statement Thursday. Food and Drug Administration, Homeland Security officials, and Immigration and customs agents seized them over a period of five days. Federal officials warned that counterfeit condoms will likely not protect against pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases, and the materials they are made with can also cause health problems.

“Counterfeit condoms, as well as cosmetics and beauty products, unlike legitimate brands, are not subject to strict quality controls and may contain substances that could lead to long-term health problems,” said the statement from customs. “In the past, seized cosmetics have been found to contain hazardous substances including cyanide, arsenic, mercury, lead, urine and rat droppings.”

In 2013 a massive international underground ring of counterfeit condom manufacturers was shut down in China after almost 5 million condoms with fake brand names were found as they were about to be shipped out of China, reported ABC News. That same year, 110 million counterfeit condoms shipped to Ghana from China were confiscated. At least 1 million had been delivered to Ghana’s health agency to distribute. “When we tested those condoms, we found that they are poor quality, can burst in the course of sexual activity, and have holes which expose the users to unwanted pregnancy and sexually transmitted disease,” a Ghana official said.  [For more: The Huffington Post]

GameStop closing 150 retail stores in 2017

The latest retailer to announce closures this year is video game outlet GameStop, which reported a double-digit decline in sales last quarter, and has seen their stock fall by over 30 percent in the past year. This year, the company will focus on its other retail brands, moving away from its traditional stores.

“The Company anticipates that it will open approximately 35 new Collectibles stores globally, and approximately 65 new Technology Brand stores,” states GameStop in its latest SEC filling. “The Company also anticipates that it will close between 2% to 3% of its global store footprint.” The closures are estimated to effect at least 150 stores. As video game consoles continue to shift game purchases toward digital downloads, the decline in retail sales is to be expected, though GameStop appears to be focused on shorter term reasons behind their lagging numbers.

“The fourth quarter was significantly impacted by weak sales of certain AAA titles and aggressive console promotions by other retailers on Thanksgiving Day and Black Friday,” continued the SEC report. “As a result, new hardware sales declined 29.1% and new software sales declined by 19.3%.”  CNBC reported last month that digital video game downloads are up nearly 10 percent year-over-year to a total of $7.5 billion in online-only sales in January 2017. No list of closures has been publicly made available.  [For more: Columbus Underground]

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