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Breaking News in the Industry: March 29, 2019

Multi-million dollar ORC ring dismantled, 23 busted

Officials said a year-long investigation revealed that shoplifters would steal items from retailers, costing them millions of dollars. It targeted large chains, including Walgreens, CVS, Duane Reade, and Ulta Beauty. Those items were then sold online for full price to unsuspecting shoppers. Law enforcement described the ring as a “sophisticated operation.” The operation originally started with hundreds of thousands of dollars in Jersey City, and that snowballed into millions of dollars in organized retail crime, spanning all the way out to Suffolk County, Long Island.

Police identified the ringleader as Stephan Williams, of Jersey City. The organization also employed a financier, drivers, cashiers, and individual shoplifters. Police said Williams or other high-ranking targets would find individuals and show them a catalog of items, such as over-the-counter medications, vitamins, and beauty supplies. The drivers would load up a car of five to 10 shoplifters and drop them off at retail locations throughout New Jersey and New York. Those shoplifters were then tasked to steal items from the catalog and were paid for each item shoplifted.

The items were then broken down, brought to a stock room on Bidwell Avenue in Jersey City, and sold on eBay. At least seven counties in New Jersey were targeted, as well as Queens, Nassau County, and Suffolk County. After police executed search warrants on several locations managed by the operation, they recovered $3 million worth of merchandise and uncovered $4.5 million from several bank accounts. At least 11 people were arrested, and police have issued After police executed search warrants on several locations managed by the operation, they recovered $3 million worth of merchandise and uncovered $4.5 million from several bank accounts. At least 11 people were arrested, and police have issued warrants for several others. for several others.   [Source: ABC7 Eyewitness News]

Two women plead guilty to ORC

Two Minneapolis women police say are involved in a Walmart organized retail crime (ORC) ring across multiple states made initial appearances Tuesday in Dunn County Court. Tashanda J. Boclair, 32, and Marquita Y. Maxwell, 28, were charged in Dunn County in February with felony retail theft, felony attempted retail theft and misdemeanor retail theft. Maxwell was also charged with a second count of misdemeanor retail theft. According to criminal complaints, Menomonie Walmart surveillance camera showed a male and two females stealing four cellphones at around 1:19 a.m. on August 15, 2017, but they were stopped by a loss prevention associate. The phones were valued at $1,640.

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The same man then stole two hover boards, a total value of $500. The LP associate also said two women stole about $1,400 in merchandise on August 14. Two months later, a Walmart LP associate said two women stole four Roku televisions and a floor lamp, valued at $550, by distracting an employee and running out of the store.Maxwell and Boclair were identified as two of the women involved in the thefts. Both also were seen on Walmart surveillance videos in thefts in Minnesota, Illinois and South Dakota. Boclair also pleaded guilty to a count of felony retail theft in Eau Claire County Court in March. She was sentenced to three years of probation, according to court records.   [Source: Leader-Telegram]

Smash and grab brothers; 1 in custody, 1 still at large

Authorities charged two Indiana brothers with smashing display cases at the Target store in the Highland Grove Shopping Center and stealing thousands of dollars in electronic devices from shocked employees. The Lake County prosecutor’s office named 24-year-old Christopher L. Williams and 22-year-old Antonio K. Williams, both of Chicago, in armed robbery charges filed this week in Lake Criminal Court. Highland police allege in court papers the brothers also are suspects in robberies earlier this month at numerous Target stores in Illinois as well.

Documents filed in court allege the two walked into the Highland Target on Indianapolis Boulevard at 9:14 p.m. March 12 and smashed a glass case near the electronics counter of the retail store with a metal bar. A Target employee heard the breaking glass, went to investigate and found the two standing by the broken security cabinet, police said. Christopher Williams first apologized and offered to clean up the mess, but when asked to step back from damaged cabinet, he said, “Screw it,” pulled out a plastic bag and warned the employee, “Bro, don’t touch me or I’ll beat the (expletive) out of you,” according to court records. Both brothers then stuffed 26 Apple watches, three Apple pencils, an iPad and other equipment worth more than $13,000 in the bag and fled, police said.

Police said Christopher Williams returned to the same Target store 10:20 p.m. March 21 and began cutting several cellphones from cables attaching them to a display counter. That triggered an alarm. When an employee confronted him and asked what he was doing, Williams said, “Yeah, I’m stealing this (expletive).” Police said he ran out of the store with three iPhones and two other devices worth $3,900 in his arms. Hobart police arrested Christopher Williams and an unidentified man Sunday night attempting to flee a Target store in that city. Court records show Christopher Williams was still in custody Tuesday. Antonio Williams is listed as being at large.   [Source:]

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Shoplifter who died after being tased, then hit by a car, identified

Police have identified the man who died after he was tasered by a police officer and struck by a vehicle in Mount Vernon, Washington, last week. The Skagit Valley Herald reports 34-year-old Joseph Dorn was running from a Mount Vernon policeman who was trying to talk to him about a reported shoplifting at Walmart. The responding officer then used his stun gun against Dorn, who fell on the ground and was hit by a vehicle on Freeway Drive. The officer remains on administrative leave. The Skagit Multiple Agency Response Team is handling the investigation and the Mount Vernon Police Department is not participating.   [Source: KGMI790 News]

Three charged in million dollar electronics scheme

In Illinois, the Elwood Police Department has filed criminal charges against three men who are accused of stealing of more than $1 million in electronics merchandise, mainly tablets and smart watches, from the Samsung /Neovia electronics warehouse at the CenterPoint Industrial Park. One of the three defendants is now in custody, 36-year-old Joliet resident Jose Sanchez, who is charged with a Class 2 felony of theft. Elwood Police say that Sanchez, who lived in Joliet, was working alone, and he was responsible for stealing more than $40,000 in electronics gear from the Samsung Electronics warehouse in Elwood. The other two men who face more severe criminal charges are still at large: Ruben Garza, 30, of Elwood’s 800 block of Laurel Avenue, and 36-year-old Paul Calderon Jr. of Chicago. Elwood Police say that Garza and Calderon were working together as part of the warehouse theft ring. Calderon has been charged with a Class 2 felony theft and his bail is $150,000.

According to Elwood Police, Garza “had been selling stolen Samsung electronics on eBay and other online websites. Investigators learned that Garza had also been renting storage units in Joliet to hide and load the stolen merchandise.” “Police were able to recover and seize numerous stolen Samsung watches and tables from Garza’s residence,” Elwood Police stated. “Elwood Police also served a subpoena on Garza’s bank records which revealed deposits from online transactions of more than $500,000 from a company in Texas named ‘Aerobadgets.’ Police executed a search warrant on one of Garza’s bank accounts totaling $133,353.” If you believe you can help the Elwood Police Department find Garza and Calderon, to get them behind bars, you are urged to call Elwood Police Sgt. Andrew Anderson at 815.693.5005 or you can go through the Will County Crimestoppers at 800.323.6734.   [Source: Joliet Patch]

Retail robbery suspect sought by police

Police in Hawaii are seeking the public’s assistance with identifying a person whose image was captured on video surveillance in connection with an armed robbery in Hilo. At 3:28 p.m. Tuesday, officers responded to a report of a robbery fronting a retail store on East Puainako Street. Police say a male suspect entered the store, took multiple items valued more than $100 and left without paying for them.

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They say a 20-year-old male store employee was threatened with a weapon by the suspect before the man fled in an older gold Mercury 4-door sedan with the license plate HMD 052. The suspect is described as thin and in his mid-20s. He was wearing a dark, long-sleeved plaid shirt, a black hat with white print, glasses and white shorts.The public is advised against approaching the suspect, who is wanted for armed robbery. Potential witnesses or those who recognize the suspect are asked to call the police non-emergency line at 935.3311 or Crime Stoppers at 961.8300.   [Source: Hawaii Tribune Herald]

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