Employee accused of stealing nearly 2,000 hydrocodone pills pleads guilty
A man accused of stealing nearly 2,000 prescription pain pills from a drugstore where he worked pleaded guilty Tuesday and was placed on two years of probation. Sean Damiano, 26, of Woodstock, New York, admitted to unlawful possession of a controlled substance, with other related charges, including retail theft, dropped in exchange for the guilty plea. He also was sentenced to 30 days community service and ordered to pay fines. At the time of his arrest two years ago, authorities said that Damiano stole about 1,800 prescription hydrocodone pills, valued at about $1,770, while he was working as a pharmacy technician at a Woodstock Walgreens. The thefts occurred between October and December 2015, officials said.
Woman left baby in hot car while she shoplifted
A Fort Walton Beach, Florida, woman faces charges of child neglect and larceny after authorities say she shoplifted from a store after she left her child alone in a hot car. According to an Okaloosa County Sheriff’s Office arrest report, Jeana Nielsen Barlas, 38, was arrested Monday after she was detained by a department store employee in Destin who allegedly caught her shoplifting. The loss prevention associate told deputies she saw Barlas enter the store and select several items, including shorts, baby clothes, baby items and water bottles worth $295 and try to leave the store without paying for them, the report said. The officer confronted Barlas at the door and escorted her to the loss prevention office, where he contacted the Sheriff’s Office. After being read her rights, Barlas admitted she intended to leave the store with the unpaid merchandise, according to her arrest report. A deputy was gathering Barlas’ information in his patrol car about 3 p.m. when dispatchers received a call from a worker at a nearby store that a child was locked in a gray Toyota passenger van, alone and crying. The employee said the car was not running and the windows were rolled down slightly. The deputy asked Barlas if she drove a gray passenger van, and she said she did, the report said. He then asked her if she left her baby unattended in the vehicle, and she said she did. The deputy drove to the store with Barlas in the back of the vehicle. When he arrived, Destin firefighters already were trying to open the van. The deputy saw the small child strapped into a car seat in the rear passenger seat. Barlas used her keys to unlock the van and remove the child. “It should be noted, the defendant did not advise anyone she left (redacted) in the vehicle when she entered the store as she was detained in the loss prevention office,” the deputy said in his report. ”(The child) was left in the vehicle unattended for approximately one hour from when she entered the store to when the life safety violation call was dispatched.” Temperatures Monday reached 75 degrees, according to AccuWeather. Experts say that within 15 minutes of being parked and turned off, temperatures inside cars become 20 to 30 degrees hotter than the temperature outside. Barlas was charged with leaving a child under the age of 6 unattended in a motor vehicle, child neglect without great bodily harm and larceny. She was booked into the Okaloosa County Jail and was released on her own recognizance, according to jail records. [Source: NWF Daily News]
Retail schemes a sore spot for NYPD, even as overall crime drops
As overall crime drops to record lows in the city, one nefarious type persists: organized retail crime. And despite its nonviolent name, it’s nothing to shrug at, law enforcement officials say. It’s particularly insidious and it’s been linked to gang activity — and even terrorism. Schemes, such as shoplifting huge amounts of merchandise and then returning the items for gift cards that can be traded for drugs, are extremely challenging for authorities to crack down on because they are often operated by extensive rings across city and state lines. On Tuesday, the NYPD hosted a conference of the Metro Organized Retail Crime Alliance, a public-private partnership, at the Police Academy in College Point, Queens. Regional law enforcement agencies, including the Jersey City and Nassau County police and the Ontario County Sheriff’s Office, attended, along with global and regional directors of asset protection and loss prevention from Target, Sephora, JC Penney and CVS .
“You’ve heard me talk before about the shootings and the violence in the city, but that’s not the entire picture of crime in New York City,” said Chief of Detectives Dermot Shea. “A segment of crime that we’ve seen growing in recent years is property crime, and it’s now making up about 45% of the index crime in New York City. This is not a small problem.” Organized retail crime costs the U.S. about $30 billion each year, according to the FBI. Special Agent Eric Ives called it a “gateway crime that often leads us to major crime rings that use the illicit proceeds to fund other crimes, such as organized crime activities, health care fraud, money laundering and potentially even terrorism.” “I don’t want to paint a picture of this as a one-time issue where somebody is going in to steal. That certainly occurs, because they’re on hard times,” Shea said. “But there is no doubt that there are very organized crews behind a significant portion of this.” The crime alliance allows the law and retailers to share intelligence, establish patterns and ultimately lead to more successful prosecutions. [Source: NY Daily News]
Trump rips online retailers over ‘very unfair’ tax policies
Donald Trump on Tuesday complained about “unfair” tax laws that favor online retailers, as the Supreme Court hears arguments in a case over the subject. “States and Cities throughout our Country are being cheated and treated so badly by online retailers. Very unfair to traditional tax paying stores!” Trump tweeted. The Supreme Court on Tuesday heard oral arguments in the case of South Dakota v. Wayfair, which centers on a South Dakota law that requires certain out-of-state online retailers to collect the state’s sales taxes. South Dakota asked the Supreme Court to uphold its law and to overturn a 1992 ruling that prevents states from compelling businesses to remit their sales taxes unless the business has a physical presence in the jurisdiction. The state of South Dakota argued that it is losing out on significant sales tax revenue, and that the old law provides online retailers an advantage over brick-and-mortar stores inside state lines. Representatives for Wayfair argued that implementing the new law would increase sales tax costs and create barriers for small businesses looking to compete with larger retailers. Trump earlier this month attacked Amazon on Twitter, claiming that the online retailer was at fault for the U.S. Postal Service’s declining revenues. He has since commissioned a panel to examine the Post Service’s operations and business model. [Source: The Hill]
Theft suspect pepper-sprays LP associate
Police are attempting to identify a suspect accused of pepper-spraying a loss prevention associate while fleeing after a retail theft. North Coventry Police in Pennsylvania are requesting the public’s help with identifying a suspect from a robbery at the Boscov’s located at the Coventry Mall. On April 14, officers responded to Boscov’s for a retail theft where the suspect fled the area after pepper-spraying a loss prevention associate. The suspect was last seen fleeing in a white sedan, possibly displaying a New York license plate. Anyone with information regarding the suspect’s identity is asked to contact the North Coventry Police Department at 610.323.8360. [Source: Daily Local News]
Bon-Ton set to become the latest retailer to go out of business entirely
Retail’s bloodletting continues. Department store operator Bon-Ton Stores is heading to federal bankruptcy court on Wednesday where a judge is likely to accept a winning bid for the retailer from liquidators, paving the way for its different chains to start shutting down in the coming weeks. The winning bidder for the retailer’s assets, according to court documents filed with U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Wilmington, Del., came from a group of bondholders, as well as Great American Group and Tiger Capital Group, firms that specialize in winding down businesses. Bon-Ton operates a namesake chain as well as Carson’s, Younkers, and Elder-Beerman. In all, the company operates some 200 department stores, net of the 40 it closed earlier this year following its Chapter 11 bankruptcy filing in February. Bon-Ton CEO Bill Tracy, who told staff earlier this week to expect a shut down of the company in the coming weeks, said in a statement to Reuters on Tuesday that, “While we are disappointed by this outcome and tried very hard to identify bidders interested in operating the business as a going concern, we are committed to working constructively with the winning bidder.” The bankruptcy auction was a relatively quick one, lasting only one business day, according to court documents. The company, with a history going back to 1854, had expressed hope recently that two mall developers, already grappling with many retail bankruptcies in recent years that have created vacancies, as well as a private equity firm would come to the rescue and keep Bon-Ton going. Instead, it looks like it will be the latest retailer to close shop, following the liquidations of Toys ‘R’ Us (still ongoing), The Sports Authority, and HHGregg in the recent past. Bon-Ton faced similar problems to those that have hurt rivals like Macy’s and JCPenney, which have closed hundreds of stores, but proved less capable of adapting. Those chains reported modest sales increases during the recent holiday quarter, while Bon-Ton continued to implode. [Source: Fortune]