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Breaking News in the Industry: April 20, 2018

Shoplifter goes berserk after store theft

Moises Cerda has had 15 mugshots taken at the Will County Jail since 2009. Will last week’s mugshot be his last? That remains to be seen. This time, the 26-year-old Joliet, Illinois, resident who lives in the 400 block of Harwood Street has landed in serious trouble with Will County’s criminal justice system. Last week, Cerda visited the Jewel-Osco on West Jefferson Street and tried to swipe a bottle of liquor, the criminal complaint states. But before Cerda made his way out of the store, the Jewel-Osco loss prevention team jumped in action. And that’s when Cerda put up a fight, according the criminal charges. Cerda is charged with striking one of the LP associates “about the neck” and also “about the body,” the complaint states. Cerda also “struck about the head” another Jewel-Osco loss prevention associate while that man “was detaining the defendant for an alleged commission of retail theft,” court documents state. Cerda finds himself charged with retail theft and three counts of aggravated battery. His bail has been set at $75,000. So far, Cerda has failed to come up with 10 percent to post bond. But if he does, a judge has told Cerda that he “shall have no contact with Jewel-Osco.”   [Source: Joliet Patch]

Suspect claims to be soldier about to be deployed, steals $100K diamond

A man walked into a Bellevue, Washington, jewelry store dressed in military fatigues and boots and told an employee he wanted to buy a diamond engagement ring for his new fiancée before being deployed. Shown a 5.54-carat, marquise-cut diamond worth $100,000, the man grabbed the stone, bolted out the door and made his getaway in an SUV, Bellevue police say. Thanks to fingerprints left on the store’s glass door after the February theft, police last week arrested a suspect, identified in charging papers as Arquae Kennedy, 26, of Vancouver, Washington. Kennedy, who was charged Monday with second-degree robbery, never served in the armed forces, according to Bellevue police and King County prosecutors. Kennedy is accused of walking into Diamonds Inc., a jewelry store on Main Street in Old Bellevue. He asked to see diamonds between 3 and 5 carats and was shown two rings, charging papers say. He then asked to see a bigger diamond, and the store’s owner showed him a loose stone in a small jar, according to the charges. As the owner explained the diamond’s price, Kennedy suddenly grabbed the jar and ran out the front door, the charges say. The owner and his son chased Kennedy as he ran until reaching a private drive, where an SUV drove up to them, charging papers say. The owner managed to grab hold of Kennedy’s jacket as Kennedy jumped into the SUV, the charges say.  The owner was dragged by the vehicle a short distance until Kennedy hit him, causing him to let go, say the charges, which note the store owner suffered a bloody nose, a cut lip, and scraped knuckles and knees.

A woman who was driving by and who witnessed the pursuit was able to provide police with a license plate number, which came back to a 2018 Mazda CX5 that had been rented by a man who did not match the description of the robbery suspect, say charging documents. An employee told officers the store’s windows had been professionally cleaned that morning and that she had just cleaned the glass door and display case before the theft. When police reviewed the store’s video-surveillance footage, officers noticed the thief had pushed the glass open as he fled. Latent fingerprints found on the glass were run through an FBI database and matched Kennedy’s fingerprints, say charging papers. The store employee and the owner’s son independently identified Kennedy from a police photo montage.  Bellevue police obtained a temporary arrest warrant for Kennedy and arrested him in Vancouver on Friday. Kennedy was booked into the Clark County Jail before being transported to the King County Jail on Monday, where he remains in lieu of $150,000 bail, jail and court records show. Kennedy’s alleged accomplice has not been identified and police have not recovered the stolen diamond, according to Bellevue police. [Source: The Seattle Times]

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Subject accused of leaving store while wearing stolen items

A woman was taken into custody after allegedly taking clothing into a fitting room at a Target store in Bloomfield Township, MIchigan, and attempting to leave while wearing the items. Angela Marie Blackwell is charged with first-degree retail fraud. Police said a Target asset protection associate at the store on Telegraph Road saw Blackwell carry multiple items of clothing into a fitting room and was wearing the items when she walked out. The asset protection manager was notified who allegedly saw Blackwell put several items into her purse while shopping. Blackwell paid for several grocery items that were in her cart at the checkout. Police said Blackwell attempted to leave the store without paying for the clothing items, the concealed items in her purse and unpaid items in her cart.  The items totaled more than $1,600. Officers responded and Blackwell was taken into custody and was arraigned Tuesday and given a $10,000 bond.
    [Source: ClickOnDetroit]

Police searching for thieves who’ve stolen up to $60K in clothing from department stores [Viral Video]

Indianapolis Metropolitan police are asking for the public’s help in tracking down a thief and several accomplices who have allegedly stolen about $60,000 in clothing from area Macy’s stores over the last few months. “They’re just running in as fast as they can and grabbing as many clothes as they can in those designer aisles and designer areas of Macy’s and then running out,” said IMPD Detective Michael Schollmeier. Schollmeier says the thefts started back in December and have continued at the Macy’s stores at Castleton Square Mall and Glendale Town Center. Investigators believe the same man, working with different accomplices, has targeted the stores about 15 times. “The majority of the value of the hits are between $2,000 and $6,000 every time,” Schollmeier said. Surveillance videos show the primary suspect and an accomplice walking into Macy’s, grabbing stacks of clothing, then quickly walking out of the store to a red Pontiac waiting in the parking lot. The thieves are in the store no more than a couple minutes. “They’re in and out so fast, there’s been numerous times loss prevention has been in the store, but as soon as they see them come in, by the time they get to that corner of the store, they’ve already grabbed their stuff and left,” Schollmeier said.

One incident didn’t go so smoothly for the thieves. One surveillance video shows the suspects struggling to walk out with several expensive jackets that had been wired to the floor by Macy’s employees. “They wired all the jackets up and put security devices on them so if they did come in, they couldn’t take that whole rack of jackets,” Schollmeier said. “And sure enough, they came in and tried to take that whole rack of jackets.” “The wires caught them and they weren’t able to get the jackets,” Schollmeier continued. “But as you can see in the video, they put the jackets down and end up going out with several thousand dollars in Polo shirts.” On another day, a Macy’s employee recognized the primary suspect when he came into the store and followed him outside. “They were able to snap some cell phone pictures of the suspects, but they weren’t able to detain them,” Schollmeier said. The thieves appear to be targeting expensive, designer brand clothing like Polo Ralph Lauren, Nautica and others. “We assume, obviously, they’re selling the stuff. But we really don’t know at this point where the clothing is going.”  If the suspects are caught, they could face charges including felony theft, and corrupt business influence. Anyone with information is asked to call Crime Stoppers at 317.262.TIPS.  [Source: CBS4Indy]

Employee steals merchandise, threatens LP and security with a gun

Colorado prosecutors have until this afternoon to file charges against a JCPenny employee accused of stealing $99 worth of jeans from the store last month and threatening Greeley Mall employees with a gun. Loss prevention associates would later tell police they caught sight of Sergio Jimenez, 24, leave the JCPenny store on the afternoon of March 29 with two pairs of jeans he hadn’t paid for. The associates tried to stop him from leaving, but he broke free from their grasp. “I have a gun,” he said, according to the affidavit for his arrest, recently made public. Then he “reached in his back pocket and pulled out a black semiautomatic handgun and held it down at his own side as he backed away.” The associates stepped away after that, and Jimenez fled to a car in the parking lot, they said. About that time, two mall security officers saw Jimenez flee from the loss prevention associates. The two mall security guards dashed out a side door in an effort to cut off Jimenez’s escape into the parking lot. When they caught up with him, he also told them he had a gun, and the security guards “backed off for their safety.” Jimenez eluded police for the next few weeks. Then, on Tuesday, Evans officers responded to the 3400 block of Belmont Avenue. The caller reported giving a man a ride, but then said the man produced a gun and threatened to shoot the driver. When police arrived at the caller’s location, they found Jimenez sitting on the sidewalk. He had a black handgun on the pavement next to him, the report states. He was arrested and booked into the Weld County Jail without further incident on suspicion of multiple criminal charges, including aggravated robbery and menacing.   [Source: The Greeley Tribune]

Consumers warned to watch out for counterfeit dresses, apparel online

From wedding dresses to summer apparel, consumers planning to add new items to their wardrobes are being warned to watch out for knock-off brand name merchandise that is increasingly tricking online shoppers. A consumer group and a counterfeit goods investigator both say it’s not only unaware consumers and brands that lose out when knock-offs are sold, but the profits often support other illegal activities. Jigme Love, co-owner of the Vancouver-based luxury consignment retailer Mine & Yours, said she’s seen the counterfeiting of brand name apparel transition from predominantly bags and accessories to dresses and other clothing. The company has destroyed a number of clothing items over the years that, upon closer inspection, turned out to be fakes, costing the store, she said. “We’re really strict but it’s not a perfect science,” she said. The store has become more cautious when buying clothes and increasingly relies on a third-party authenticator to verify garments, a process they previously used only for bags, Love said. There’s also been a shift from counterfeiting common high-end names like Michael Kors to more coveted haute couture lines like Chanel, she said. With wedding and prom season fast-approaching, Evan Kelly with the Better Business Bureau of Mainland B.C. is reminding consumers to do their homework before investing in a deal that seems too good to be true. “When it comes to brand name clothing, nothing is off limits,” he said. “We’ve seen fake Vera Wang dresses, fake just about anything.” Lorne Lipkus, a Toronto lawyer and member of the Canadian Anti-Counterfeiting Network, said everyone loses when knock-off brands are sold. An estimated $20 billion to $30 billion in counterfeit consumer goods are sold in Canada every year, he said. “The counterfeiters don’t pay taxes, so we are supporting an endeavor that is not contributing to this wonderful society that we have,” he said.

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While he’s seen production of counterfeit goods shut down by police over the years, he said 80 percent of the global trade comes from China, and it’s largely controlled by organized crime or terrorism groups. Kelly said consumers should know the websites and companies they’re dealing with, check reviews, and always pay by credit card or PayPal which offer added security. Traditional brick-and-mortar stores continue to be the safer bet for shopping, he said. Increasingly, Lipkus said fake goods sold online aren’t just appearing on unique or resale websites but are sold through social media sites, including Facebook and Instagram. Three years ago, Lipkus said his law firm Kestenberg Siegal Lipkus LLP only employed one part-time person to search out online sellers. Today, they have three full-time investigators dedicated to the issue. Love said shoppers looking for a designer second-hand wedding dress should ask for a copy of the receipt and then call the retailer to confirm the original purchase. “I’ve even seen fake receipts,” she said. Close inspection of the stitching of a garment, the fabric and the label can provide clues as to whether a product is the real deal, she added. Lipkus also encouraged shoppers who get scammed to contact the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre, which can investigate and provide support to someone trying to get their money refunded by a credit card provider.    [Source: The Colonist]

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