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Breaking News in the Industry: August 11, 2017

Almost $50,000 in gift cards bought with stolen identities

Jefferson Parish Louisiana Sheriff’s Office investigators arrested five people accused of using stolen personal information to buy almost $50,000 worth of gift cards at local stores. The suspects involved fraudulently bought gift cards using customer accounts at Best Buy, in Harvey, and Sears, in Metairie, Louisiana, according to arrest and incident reports. Other than the similarities in how the suspects allegedly executed the thefts, detectives don’t think the two cases are connected, said Lt. Jason Rivarde, spokesman for the Sheriff’s Office. The first investigation began on July 13 when a loss prevention associate for Sears contacted the Sheriff’s Office after noticing that a woman had been coming to the store and using stolen customer account information to buy gift cards, an incident report said. Using surveillance video, the officer identified the woman as Kyandria Wimbush, 18, of Harvey, arrest reports said. Wimbush is accused of recruiting store cashiers Darius Barrow, 18, and Ronald Rankins, 22, both of New Orleans, to look up customers’ Sears accounts using stolen social security numbers, the arrest reports said.

Wimbush then used the account information to buy $21,352 worth of gift cards, according to the Sheriff’s Office. The loss prevention associates prevented her from buying another $5,080 worth when she, Rankin and Barrow were taken into custody on July 15, the incident reports state.
Wimbush was booked with identity theft valued over $1,000, computer fraud, access device fraud and attempted access device fraud, arrest reports show. Rankins and Barrow were booked with one count of computer fraud. On July 18, the assistant manager of Best Buy in Harvey contacted the Sheriff’s Office after confronting a 17-year-old cashier about the purchase of $28,103 worth of gift cards using stolen personal information, according to Rivarde. | The Times-Picayune is not identifying the 17-year-old girl because she is a minor. The teen told investigators a woman approached her in the store and asked if she wanted to make some extra money, the incident report said. The woman paid the teen $1,000 to access customer Best Buy accounts to buy Visa and Best Buy gift cards. The pair used five customer accounts to make the purchases in 18 transactions between June 3 and July 13, arrest reports state.  [Source: The Times Picayune]

Washington man hits store employees after shoplifting attempt foiled

Two grocery employees in Lynwood, Washington, were injured over the weekend when an angry shoplifting suspect struck them with a shovel handle, according to police. The incident began when a 44-year-old man walked into the QFC store and attempted to steal some sandwiches, police said. The man left the store when an employee spotted the theft attempt and told the man he needed to pay for the sandwiches. About four hours later, the man returned to the store armed with a stick that appeared to be the handle of a gardening tool like a shovel. The man went up to the employee who had confronted him earlier and hit him in the head with the stick, police said. As the suspect fled, another employee tried to detain him. The suspect struck that employee with the stick as well. The suspect was captured nearby by a K-9 police dog that was brought to the scene. Both of the store employees were treated for cuts to the head and one also had a bruise to his arm. [Source: KOMO News]

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Cashier steals $5,000 in his only month on the job

A  Wisconsin Macy’s employee turned himself in after he was caught stealing more than $5,000 in cash in the one month he worked there. On June 29 Wauwatosa police officers responded to Macy’s for a report on employee theft. Officers spoke with the loss prevention associate, who informed police of more than $5,000 in cash register money shortages linked to an employee by the name of Dion Spears, 20, Milwaukee, according to a criminal complaint filed in Milwaukee County. According to police, they located 10 incidents where Spears’ register came up short – several of which were caught on surveillance video. In the video, Spears is seen opening the register, removing money and putting it into deposit bags and putting it into his pocket. According to investigators, there are ten incidences on video when the defendant is on video. The total amount of money stolen without consent from Macy’s between May 24, 2017, and June 21, 2017, was $5,163.65.  [Source: Wauwatosa Patch]

Under Armour wins $300,000 in lawsuit against Chinese knockoff brand

A Chinese knockoff brand known as Uncle Martian is being ordered to pay Under Armour a large sum for copyright infringement. Popular sports brand Under Armour has been tenacious in taking legal action against the Chinese sportswear startup whose logo is uncannily similar. Since last year, Under Armour has been targeting a brand they deem as a “serious concern” and “blatant infringement,” according to Shanghaiist. “Under Armour is aware of the Uncle Martian launch event,” said in a statement back in May 2016. “Uncle Martian’s uses of Under Armour’s famous logo, name, and other intellectual property are a serious concern and blatant infringement. Under Armour will vigorously pursue all business and legal courses of action.”  The legal battle between Under Armour and Uncle Martian has now come to a conclusion.

Uncle Martian’s parent company, Tingfeilong Sporting Goods, has been ordered to pay Under Armour 2 million yuan ($300,000), according to a court ruling in Fujian. In addition, the Chinese knockoff brand was ordered to destroy all infringing products. To top off Under Armour’s victory, Uncle Martian is also ordered to release a statement to “eliminate the adverse effect” of the brand’s infringement. Tingfeilong Sporting Goods is a 26-year-old shoe manufacturer that hoped to take advantage of Under Armour’s success in China. The company launched their Uncle Martian brand, which featured a logo that clearly resembles Under Armour’s famous emblem, in the hopes of capturing the sports market in their region as well.   [Source: NextShark]

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Shots fired during pursuit of suspected shoplifter in Delaware County

Several Ohio police agencies are investigating after a shoplifting incident led to a deputy firing at the suspect. According to the Delaware County Sheriff’s Office, it started around 8pm Tuesday with a shoplifting call at the OshKosh B’gosh store at the Tanger Outlet Mall. Deputies on bike patrol found the suspect in her vehicle in the back of the parking lot. When deputies tried to talk to her, the Sheriff’s office said she began to pull away, knocking one of the officers over in the process.

One deputy believed she was driving at them and fired at least one shot at the vehicle, puncturing a tire. The driver got away and started heading east, away from the mall. That’s when a nearby deputy started chasing the suspect. The Sheriff’s office said the suspect crashed about a mile away at the intersection of Berkshire Road and 3 Bs and K. The driver was taken to an area hospital with minor injuries. A deputy was taken to the hospital as a precautionary measure. Ohio BCI is investigating the shooting, the Ohio State Highway patrol is investigating the crash and the Delaware County Sheriff’s Office is investigating the shoplifting. No charges have been filed yet, but they are expected.  [Source: NBC4i News]

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Cargo thefts decline sharply in second quarter, but $17.2M worth of freight still stolen

Thieves stole $17.2 million worth of cargo in the United States and Canada during the second quarter of 2017, down from $35.1 million in the year-ago period, data tracking firm CargoNet reported. The number of thefts also declined, to 296 from 375 in the second quarter of 2016, according to CargoNet. While California and Texas remain first and second as the most popular states for thieves, both recorded drops in the number and value of thefts, with declines of 53% and 51%, respectively. California had the most thefts among states at 24%, followed by Texas at 15%, Tennessee at 11%, Florida at 8% and New Jersey at 6%. CargoNet’s data includes thefts in trucking, rail, warehousing, vehicle theft and fraud. CargoNet said that the food and beverage category remains the most active, accounting for 20% of thefts. While that is a decline of 5% versus year-ago levels, thefts of second-place household goods rose 4%, accounting for 19% of thefts. Electronics lands in third place, with 11% of thefts, versus nearly 15% for the second quarter of 2016.

While the reported declines are welcome news, Scott Cornell, transportation lead and crime and theft specialist at The Travelers Companies Inc., noted that reporting and enforcement can affect the numbers. CargoNet’s members report voluntarily, and sometimes that means underreporting of thefts, he said. “I’m not saying all of the decrease is due to a lack of reporting, though,” he noted. “I think a big part is due to the arrests, and [to] some [extent] the underreporting or change in reporting, the fluctuation.” In terms of enforcement, high-profile busts can raise alarm among thieves. Cornell said that from 2016 into early 2017, “there were a ton of arrests made for cargo theft” such as in Georgia, California and Florida. “Florida and Georgia worked very well together, with the Miami Dade and Georgia task forces making numerous arrests. In Southern California, the [Los Angeles Police Department] made numerous arrests and that will reduce cargo thefts.” The numbers of trucks and trailers stolen in the United States and Canada also declined last quarter, with thieves snagging 110 tractors and 109 trailers. Thefts of tractors were down 17% and thefts of trailers declined 29% compared with year-ago levels. More intermodal chassis and containers were stolen, 25 in the second quarter this year compared with 21 in the same period in 2016. [Source: Transport Topics]

More than 100 Applebee’s, IHOP restaurants to close

The parent company of Applebee’s and IHOP could close as many as 135 Applebee’s restaurants, and 25 IHOP restaurants this year due to poor sales, according to a statement released Thursday. DineEquity’s interim CEO Richard J. Dahl said in the release that 2017 will be a “transitional year” for Applebee’s, adding, “we are making the necessary investments for overall long-term brand health and expect to see improvement over the next year.” DineEquity noted that the numbers are revised expectations – the number of Applebee’s restaurants set to close is more than double what was previously expected.  The number of expected IHOP closures is between two and seven more locations. “IHOP remains on solid ground, despite soft sales this quarter,” Dahl said. “I am optimistic about the growth in both effective franchise restaurants and system-wide sales.” Company officials said in the release that “the expected closures will be based on several criteria, including franchisee profitability, operational results and meeting our brand quality standards.” The press release notes a 7 percent decline in sales for Applebee’s during the first six months of 2017.Additionally, IHOP’s sales declined 2.6 percent for the second quarter of 2017. Applebee’s sales declined 6.2 percent for the second quarter of 2017. The announcement boosted DineEquity’s stock 4 percent Thursday morning. [Source: WGN9 News]

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