Breaking News in the Industry: April 17, 2018

Sheriffs bust ring selling stolen cigarettes

A multi-jurisdictional operation involving state and local law enforcement agencies and prosecutors in Tampa, Florida, shut down a major stolen cigarette operation that spanned 20 counties. On April 12, Hillsborough County Special Investigations Division detectives, with the assistance of district patrol units, concluded a month-long investigation into stores illegally purchasing stolen cigarettes in Hillsborough County. Detectives were able to obtain probable cause for search warrants at 15 stores and 18 arrest warrants. During Operation Up in Smoke, undercover detectives sold 170 cartons of cigarettes to the various stores and received $3,620 as payment for the cigarettes. The true retail value of the cartons sold was $10,880. “Shutting down this illegal cigarette ring levels the playing field for businesses who do the right thing by following the law and complying with our regulations.

This is a win for everyone.” said Hillsborough County Sheriff Chad Chronister. Detectives served the court-authorized search warrants and seized the following items: approximately $60,000, four firearms, marijuana, synthetic marijuana, 142 stolen packs of cigarettes (sold by detectives) and miscellaneous paraphernalia. The marijuana was found in various forms, including plant material, oils, creams, edibles, and capsules. A total of 15 people were arrested as a result of this operation. An outstanding warrant remains for Jihad Nawabeet, who is a clerk at Snack Attack Store, in Tampa. Also participating in Operation Up in Smoke were the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, the Office of the Florida Attorney General, the Hillsborough County State Attorney’s Office, the Pasco County Sheriff’s Office and the Florida Division of Alcoholic Beverages and Tobacco. All together, these agencies made 17 arrests on 135 separate charges.  [Source: The Tampa Patch]

Fireworks distraction thieves hit jewelry store in mall [Viral Video]

In this case Miami-Dade police say it led to a “grand theft” at the Mayors Jewelers inside the sprawling Dadeland mall . It was about 6:30 p.m. when a man went into the jewelry store and asked an employee to show him an expensive watch, police said. “Once the subject had the watch in his possession, an unknown person set off fireworks in the vicinity of the store,” said Miami-Dade Police Detective Argemis Colome. The thief used the distraction to take off with the watch, Colome said. As shoppers ran from the area there were some minor injuries, police said. None of the injuries were related to the fireworks. Police did not provide a description of the watch that was stolen or indicate its worth. This is at least the third time in recent months that fireworks were used in Florida to cause a panic among shoppers so thieves could make a getaway. On New Year’s Eve, at the Zales Outlet jewelry store at Sawgrass Mills mall, a man stole an $11,400 Rolex watch after someone set off fireworks a few feet from the store’s entrance. And in Central Florida on April 8, 11 people were hurt, according to the Orange County Sheriff’s Office, when thieves used firecrackers at the Florida Mall to simulate gunshots. That incident was also a theft at a jewelry store, the sheriff’s office said.  [Source: SunSentinal]

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Kansas man jailed after pulling knife on asset protection associate

Law enforcement authorities are investigating a suspect after an altercation with a store asset protection associate. Just after 11a.m. Sunday, police were dispatched to the Target store in Topeka, Kansas, where an AP associate attempted to stop a suspected shoplifter, according to Lt. Kelvin Johnson. During the incident, the alleged shoplifter attempted to punch the AP associate and then pulled a knife and ran north with the items he had taken from the store. A witness kept an eye on the suspect until police arrived. Following a brief foot pursuit, police captured the suspect identified as 29-year-old Casey J. St. John. He was booked into the Shawnee County Department of Corrections for Aggravated Robbery and Felony Obstruction, according to Johnson. The asset protection associate was not injured during the incident. A witness kept an eye on the suspect until police arrived. Following a brief foot pursuit, police captured the suspect identified as 29-year-old Casey J. St. John. He was booked into the Shawnee County Department of Corrections for Aggravated Robbery and Felony Obstruction, according to Johnson. The asset protection associate was not injured during the incident.  [Source: Hays Post]

Deputies searching for shoplifters accused of pointing pistol at LPA

The Sheriff’s Office Violent Crimes Unit in Harris County, Texas, is searching for two Kohl’s robbers accused of pointing a pistol at a loss prevention associate. According to police, a man and woman were shoplifting at a Kohl’s store in the 7100 block of the Barker Cypress when loss prevention associates noticed them hiding items in the bottom of a shopping cart. When the associates approached the two shoplifters they ran out of the store and pointed a pistol at the LP associates. The shoplifters were last scene driving away in a light blue and silver GMC pickup truck. The man is described as being 5 feet, 11 inches tall and weighing 180 pounds. The woman is described as being 5 feet, 7 inches tall and weighing 150 pounds. Crime Stoppers may pay up to $5,000 for information leading to the charging and/or arrest of the suspect in this case. Information may be reported by calling 713-222-TIPS (8477).   [Source: CW39 NewsFix]

Twin sisters arrested at for shoplifting

On April 1, officer Walter Larson was called to Walmart in Warwick, Rhodes Island, for a report of two women shoplifting, discovered they were twins, and arrested them both. Larson arrived at store and spoke with the manager, who told him he had observed two women, twins, later identified as Jessica Norberg, 38, and her twin sister, Jamie Nordberg, enter the store, according to Larson’s report. The loss prevention manager said the twins walked throughout the store, selecting a large amount of merchandise from each department, paying for some, but not all, at the register before leaving with the stolen items on their person, Larson reported. The LP manager confronted the women after they left the store without paying for the merchandise, and the women agreed to return to the manager’s office without incident. Inside the store, the stolen merchandise was assessed, with Jessica credited with stealing $423 and the other woman, Jamie, with stealing $277.30 from the store. Larson discovered that Jessica had an outstanding warrant for failing to appear in court, and Jaime had no prior arrests. The women were each scheduled in Third District Court for May 8.  [Source: Warwick Post]

Suspect pleads out in retail fraud case

A Branch County, Michigan, man arrested in connection with a Feb. 25 retail fraud at the Jonesville Walmart appeared in Hillsdale County District Court Wednesday morning for a probable cause conference. Nicholas Lynn Gigowski, 37, was arrested April 2 by the Hillsdale County Sheriff’s Office on a felony warrant charging him with first degree retail fraud and conspiracy to commit first degree retail fraud. On Wednesday morning, Gigowski pleaded guilty to second degree retail fraud, a one year misdemeanor, in a plea bargain arranged with the Hillsdale County Prosecutor’s Office who agreed to dismiss the more serious offense. “I was shopping with the intention not to pay,” Gigowski said. Gigowski admitted to Hillsdale County District Judge Sara S. Lisznyai that he and another man “shopped” for over two hours, placing around $1,000 worth of merchandise into a shopping cart. Gigowski further claimed that when the shopping spree was over, he and he alone pushed the cart full of merchandise out of an emergency exit door. “I acted on my own,” Gigowski said. “I pushed it out the emergency exit door.” Gigowski will appear back in district court for sentencing in May after a pre-sentence investigation report is completed. The man that was with Gigowski has yet to be charged in connection with the crime. Lisznyai also granted Gigowski’s request for a bond reduction to $10,000 with 10 percent allowed; he was previously being held on a $40,000 bond with 10 percent allowed.  [Source: Hillsdale Daily News]

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