Breaking News in the Industry: November 18, 2016

Suspect in mall shooting began at theater

The young man accused of fatally shooting five people at a Washington state mall had a history of violence against his family and girlfriend, who told police he had links with “bad people in Turkey,” according to documents obtained by The Associated Press. The reports reveal suspect Arcan Cetin had an interest in beheadings by the Islamic State militant group and followed their activities in the news. An hour before the Sept. 23 shooting in Macy’s in Burlington, Washington, the reports say he bought a ticket to the film “Snowden” at the mall’s theater.

He went into the theater and propped an outside door open with his cellphone, suggesting he may have planned a repeat of the Aurora, Colorado, mass shooting by James Holmes. After Cetin went outside, a person in the theater gave the partially crushed phone to an employee at a kiosk. Cetin walked back inside and asked the worker if anyone had found a phone. She handed it to him and he left, records said. Soon after, authorities say Cetin went into Macy’s on the other side of the mall and shot a girl near a clothing rack and a man he encountered as he walked to a makeup counter. There, he shot two women who clung to each other in front of the counter and an employee as she hid behind it, according to police reports and surveillance video. He set the rifle on the counter and left.

Police captured Cetin the next day a block from his Oak Harbor, Washington, apartment. He’s being held on a felony warrant accusing him with five counts of first-degree murder. Formal charges are expected in January. Bail was set at $2 million. His stepfather told reporters after Cetin’s initial court appearance that he suffers from psychological problems. Hundreds of pages of police interviews and search warrants reveal a history of violence against and by Cetin dating back to his years in Turkey before moving to the U.S. with his mother when he was 7. Cetin told police his uncles used to hit him. One of those uncles is now in prison for murder, the police report said. Cetin’s ex-girlfriend told police that people warned her against dating Cetin when they worked together at the commissary. Co-workers said “he talks about how he would kill people when he gets angry,” she told police, but she dated him anyway and their relationship turned violent. “He would grab my arm and I’d have bruises at work,” she said. “And during, like, intimate times tried choking me until I passed out. How frequently would he choke you?” asked the officer. “Every time,” said the girlfriend. She also said Cetin attacked his father for looking at her. The AP is not naming her because she alleges she was abused by Cetin. She did not immediately return a call from AP Thursday.

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Police asked Cetin, who described himself as a devout Sunni Muslim, whether his Turkish relatives had ties to terrorist groups and he said no. He also said he didn’t have any contact with those relatives. “Cetin did admit to taking an interest in ISIS beheadings with he watched on the Internet and he also stated that he listens to the news and reads articles about ISIS,” the police report said. Police asked him if he thought what terrorists did was wrong, he said yes, the report said. “He was asked if he was to be labeled a Muslim terrorist for these shootings would this be okay for him and he said ‘I can’t answer that,'” the police report said. “He was asked if terrorist groups such as ISIS inspired him to commit these murders and he again said ‘I can’t answer that.'”  Cetin said he didn’t know any of the shooting victims and showed no remorse while speaking about the people he had killed, the police report said. “In fact, at times he would smirk and smile and appeared to be unsympathetic,” the officer said. [Source: APNewsBreak]

Woman allegedly hits, drags deputy after shoplifting

St. Bernard Parish, Louisiana, deputies are searching for a 40-year-old woman who is wanted for allegedly hitting a parish deputy with her car and dragging him for several feet.  Antoinette Jacobs of New Orleans is now wanted for attempted murder of a sheriff’s deputy on November 12 outside the Walmart in Chalmette.

A sheriff’s deputy who was working an off-duty paid detail at the Walmart, tried to stop Jacobs outside the store about 6:15 a.m. for shoplifting alcohol. Jacobs then pulled away and ran into a car parked in the lot, which possibly had the motor running, Sheriff James Pohlmann said.

As the deputy was trying to stop the suspect in the open driver’s side door, the suspect put the vehicle in reverse and accelerated. The officer was knocked to the ground and dragged several feet alongside the vehicle due to being pinned between the vehicle and the ground. The suspect then placed the sedan into drive and fled the parking lot, the sheriff said. The deputy, whose name was not released, was treated at a hospital for injuries and has been released. According to police, Jacobs has a felony conviction and numerous shoplifting arrests in her criminal history. She was last seen driving a black Pontiac sedan bearing Louisiana license plate XXS964.  Anyone with information regarding Jacob’s whereabouts is asked to call the sheriff’s office at (504) 271-2501 or Crimestoppers at (504) 822-1111. [Source: WLTV.com]

Countdown to Black Friday: Are you an easy target for cargo theft?

With Black Friday on the horizon, consumer goods of all kinds are making their way from manufacturers to distribution centers and retail locations across the country. As shoppers count down the days until they can score deals on the hottest products, cargo thieves are counting on cashing in on opportunities to swipe unattended trailers and shipments. The industry experiences more cargo theft incidents when there is a higher volume of consumer goods moving through the supply chain. Holiday weekends and the weeks leading up to the Black Friday retail shopping holiday are prime times for organized crime groups to target the trucks, warehouses, and distribution centers that send or receive those goods. But while we are in the midst of a season notorious for a spike in cargo thefts, there are a few precautions you can take to protect your freight. Remember that freight at rest is freight at risk. The more time freight spends sitting unattended, the likelier the chances are for truckload theft. Try to keep the amount freight that’s shipped out over weekends to a minimum, or work with your carriers to avoid prolonged stretches in drop yards. Be especially mindful in traditionally active cargo theft areas like Southern California, the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex, Miami, and Atlanta.

Identify vulnerabilities and don’t let your guard down. Dig into operational controls to understand which protective measures are in place at every point in the supply chain. Additionally, know that all “secure” drop yards are not created equal, so it’s important to verify and validate whenever possible. Is the drop yard gated? Guarded? Well-lit? Is it a shared space? You can also do a quick Google Earth search to see what those yards look like and to help determine if they meet your expectations and standards. Leverage relationships with your third-party logistics provider (3PL). Your representative should be engaging in proactive measures to keep your freight safe. Your rep can validate carriers; help them understand best practices to keep freight safe; and provide insight around your expectations, lanes, and supply chain. [Source: Global Trade Mag]

Woman charged for setting fires as diversion for shoplifting

A Kansas City, Kansas, woman was charged Wednesday in federal court with setting fires as diversions as she shoplifted three grocery stores, U.S. Attorney Tom Beall says.

Tahmekah D. Henson, 40, is charged with three counts of arson. The U.S. Attorney says Henson is accused of setting fires at two Save A Lot stores in Kansas City, Kan. and at a Happy Foods store in Kansas City, Kansas.

Documents in the case say Henson set fires in store aisles so she could leave the stores with shoplifted meats during the confusion. In each case, there were customers and employees in the stores, Beall says. If convicted, Henson faces up to 20 years in prison and a find up to $250,000 on each count against her. [Source: KWCH.com]

Voice recognition technology is expediting the race to frictionless retail

You’re a sales associate at a big-box retailer and a customer just asked whether the latest iPhone 7 is in stock. You proceed to ask your colleague, Stuart, the same question, and he tells you the product is sold out. But there’s something odd about this scenario: You didn’t move an inch, and Stuart isn’t a person. Stuart is an artificially intelligent assistant that lives in your earpiece. Each day, he saves you multiple trips to the stock room to do inventory checks, because he’s autonomously connected to your retailer’s inventory management and point-of-sale systems. Stuart represents the recent advancements in voice recognition technology, which are poised to transform the retail landscape. The conventionally human task that he’s performing is speech recognition — a critical component of the apex of artificial intelligence. The holy grail of voice recognition technology is to render speech as a natural method of communication between humans and the software that’s proverbially eating the world. The potential impact of voice recognition technology on the retail sector is vast and compelling, and can be understood through two separate lenses: customer experience and productivity.

With respect to customer experience, retailers must first evaluate the contexts and situations in which shoppers currently find it difficult to engage in commerce, despite the ubiquity of smartphones. A good place to start is to think about when a shopper may have a fleeting impulse to make a purchase, but lacks the will to pull out their mobile phone or reach for the laptop to initiate the transaction.

According to this year’s Internet Trends report by Mary Meeker, partner at venture capitalist firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, examples of contexts in which consumers want to make purchases but can’t include: while at home doing housework; driving a car; or while on the go. It’s still difficult for shoppers to engage in commerce in these situations because hands or vision are usually occupied, they expect faster results and there’s a desire to avoid the difficulty associated with typing on certain devices. Retailers that are keen to take the leap and add voice recognition capabilities to their existing suite of consumer applications can leverage the major voice recognition platforms in various ways. For example, Apple’s Siri is open to developers (via the SiriKit) who want to integrate their iOS 10 applications to the voice service and leverage its human speech interpretation capability to drive a better user experience for customers.

It’s worth noting, however, that the voice recognition platforms and services offered by the tech giants (Google Now, Apple’s Siri, Amazon’s Alexa, Microsoft Cortana) are tightly linked to the hardware and software developed by each company. For retailers seeking to license a more custom voice recognition capability and don’t want to be limited by choice of hardware or operating system, startups such as MindMeld are innovating in the natural language processing space and can meet this demand. [Source: Tech Crunch]

De Blasio doesn’t care how Trump Tower traffic affects retailers

Mayor Bill de Blasio said Wednesday he’s got bigger problems to worry about than how Tiffany and Gucci — world-famous retailers that lure tourists by the truckload and generate millions in taxes for the city — are coping with the security cordon around Trump Tower. “I will not tell you that Gucci and Tiffany are my central concerns in life,” the mayor told reporters. Tiffany, a Trump Tower neighbor, said it was forced to cancel its annual holiday-window unveiling event at its flagship store, although it remains open to shoppers who aren’t deterred by barricades that line Fifth Avenue between 56th and 57th streets.

Leslie Garrett, director of the Nohra Haime Gallery, directly across from the tower, said de Blasio’s comments are “pretty flippant. “I would expect better from our mayor,” she said. Garrett pointed out that it’s not just Gucci and Tiffany that are hurting because of the security cordon. “Every retail store, every garage, every other business around here had zero customers on Saturday [because of anti-Donald Trump protests],” she said. “We’re an art gallery, and clients are canceling because they can’t get here. We’ve been getting close to zero foot traffic also.” Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer, a board member of the Fifth Avenue Business Improvement District, condemned the mayor’s remarks. She said she was strolling along Fifth Avenue over the weekend and “it was insane. The stores were empty and the employees were peering out the window looking for customers. That never happens.” Brewer noted that high-end retailers depend on the holiday season to pay their lofty rents. “I think all the stores need to have as much business as possible, especially during the holiday season. They’re paying high rent, many are icons in the area, and they need the support of the mayor, myself and customers. They should not be maligned in any way,” she added.

John Doci, manager of Il Tinello Ristorante, on 56th Street, said business has been abysmal and he found the mayor’s remarks “insensitive. We are struggling,” he said. “Business is down 30 percent. We’re having a problem with customers being stopped by police, deliveries not being able to get through. It’s horrible.” Gucci and the Fifth Avenue Business Improvement District, whose president has been vocal about retailers’ concerns, did not respond to requests for comment.

De Blasio met with reporters after a 62-minute meeting with the president-elect at Trump Tower and conceded that traffic in the already congested neighborhood will be a serious issue as the holiday season approaches. Hizzoner is planning a press conference with Police Commissioner James O’Neill on Friday to discuss traffic concerns. “The commissioner is meeting with the Secret Service shortly and will be in a much better position to give you a sense of the balance that we will strike,” De Blasio said. “Obviously, traffic in Midtown has to flow and obviously the president-elect and his entire team have to be protected.”  [Source: New York Post]

 

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