Breaking News in the Industry: August 23, 2018

external theft, organized retail crime methods

Two dozen arrested in biggest NY counterfeit cosmetics haul to date

Two dozen people have been detained in connection to what is said to be the largest counterfeit cosmetics arrest in history, in what would have been an estimated $450 million retail price. A total of 22 people have been charged in the case, whom officials say used 40-foot shipping containers to smuggle in items such as fake Chanel perfume that have been manufactured in China. The items were said to have been primarily smuggled in via the Port of New York/New Jersey. 11 other suspects were arrested via a separate warrant.

Speaking in a statement, HSI Special Agent-in-Charge Angel Melendez stated, “This investigation exposed the global nature of intellectual property crimes, allegedly being executed by those arrested today. Counterfeit goods manufactured and smuggled from China with a suggested value close to half a billion dollars, were intended to make its way into U.S. markets and into the hands of unsuspecting consumers.
“This investigation should be a crystal clear message that counterfeiting and intellectual property rights violations is anything but a victimless crime as it harms legitimate businesses, consumers and governments.” According to a report by NBC New York, the smugglers used the names and addresses and documents of legitimate companies, with the goods then taken to self-storage facilities in Brooklyn, Queens and Long Island where they were stored.   [Source: Global Cosmetics News]

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Retailer’s store traffic smashes records — again

Target is picking up the pace on its comeback plan — and it’s paying off. The company shattered traffic records for a second consecutive quarter, posting traffic growth of 6.4%, the strongest since the company began reporting traffic 12 years ago, the company reported Wednesday. In turn, sales are setting new records too. Comparable sales in the quarter increased 6.5%, while comparable store sales grew 4.9% and comparable digital sales grew 41%.

Target said these are the best comps in 13 years at the company. Revenue is up too, 6.9% over last year, reaching $17.8 billion. In light of the strong results, Target updated its guidance for the rest of the year, laying out expectations to spark sales growth in line with the 4.8% comps growth the company has delivered in the first half of the year. “As we look ahead to 2019, we expect to achieve scale across the full slate of our initiatives — creating efficiencies and cost-savings, further strengthening our guest experience and positioning Target to continue gaining market share,” CEO Brian Cornell said in a press release.   [Source: RetailDive]

Robbery suspect allegedly robbed more than 15 stores and pharmacies

A 40-year-old man accused in Tuesday’s robbery of a Conroe, Texas, CVS pharmacy is suspected in the robberies of more than 15 stores and pharmacies in three states. Conroe police arrested Patrick Daniel Glavin, 40, on several felony charges including five counts of robbery, evading arrest in a vehicle, tampering with physical evidence, and two motions to revoke his probation for a misdemeanor and felony charge. Law enforcement authorities expect additional charges stemming from other alleged robberies in Montgomery and Harris counties. Glavin, whose last known address is in Dayton, remains in the Montgomery County Jail on a roughly $500,000 bond as the investigation continues.

On Tuesday, Conroe officers were called to a robbery in progress at the CVS Pharmacy located at 910 W. Davis at approximately 3 a.m. on Tuesday. “As officers approached the store, a witness was able to provide a description of a vehicle, a white Chevy Impala, that was traveling toward Interstate 45,” Conroe Police Sgt. Jeff Smith said. “Officers were able to react quickly, locate the vehicle traveling south on I-45, got behind the vehicle and initiated a traffic stop.” Glavin turned himself in after allegedly leading officers on a high-speed chase that traveled south, then north and ended in a business parking lot in the 26900 block of Interstate 45. “Officers were able to locate items in the car that allegedly connected Glavin to the robbery at the CVS pharmacy,” Smith said. “During the pursuit, Glavin did throw items out of the car’s windows.” After his arrest, officers determined Glavin had outstanding warrants from Montgomery, Harris and Liberty counties and Calcasieu Parish in Louisiana. Glavin is accused of several robberies in Montgomery County cities, including Shenandoah, New Caney and Porter.

According to Harris County court documents, Glavin is allegedly connected to four similar robberies at Walgreens pharmacies in the city of Houston, two robberies in Harris County, one in Baytown and one in League City. “Glavin allegedly had his face covered, made contact with the pharmacist, demanding narcotics and medication and was able to obtain those requested items,” Smith said. “Luckily, the pharmacist was able to contact an employee up front who was able to provide police with a description. Conroe Police officers did a great job to apprehend Glavin.” Police said Glavin used the same method in multiple other alleged robberies. Previously, Glavin was charged with robbery by threat in Harris County and received six years of probation in June. His probation was set to end in 2024.   [Source: Chron]

Suspects accused of nationwide credit card fraud operation

Two people were arrested in North Carolina in connection to a nationwide credit card fraud operation with international implications Monday in Watauga County.  Boone Police Department says the investigation began after receiving information from a local bank that employees observed suspicious activity at one of their ATMs in Watauga County.  The suspects were illegally obtaining thousands of dollars from local bank ATMs with the use of multiple bankcards, police say.

Authorities say they located the suspected vehicle and were able to stop the vehicle and arrest the suspects, later identified as Norris Felton McLoyd and Yeneyder Del Socorro Norris. A search of the vehicle and suspects revealed multiple items of evidence including cash and over 20 fraudulent credit cards, police say. Boone police and officials from the Randolph County Sheriff’s Office searched the suspects’ home and seized more evidence, according to a report from Boone police. The evidence indicated that the suspects were manufacturing fraudulent or “clone” bankcards to illegally obtain money from innocent people’s bank accounts.  [Source: WBTV3 News]

Employee charged with theft

A Home Depot employee in Texas, accused of helping a customer leave with nearly $3,000 worth of merchandise last month, has been charged with theft. Authorities said officers were called to the store on July 14 after store managers confronted Dawn Anne Ruhs. According to the police report, Ruhs began a sales transaction for a customer with a cart full of merchandise but voided the transaction before payment was received. The 45-year-old was seen on security video taking the merchandise, which included a riding lawn mower, out of the store with the customer, the report states.

Store managers said there was a previous investigation into the employee “due to suspected activity of the same nature,” according to the police report. Ruhs was charged with theft of property between $2,500 and $30,000 on Saturday. She was released from the Brazos County Jail the same day after posting $7,500 bail. Theft of property in that amount is a state jail felony punishable by up to two years in jail and a $10,000 fine. [Source: The Eagle]

Grocer to ban plastic checkout bags by 2025

Kroger said it would ban all plastic checkout bags by 2025. America’s largest supermarket chains said it would transition from single-use to reusable bags and ultimately eliminate 123 million pounds of garbage annually sent to landfills. That would quadruple the amount of plastic the retailer currently recycles.

Kroger currently sells reusable bags starting at $1 each. Kroger will ramp up the availability of those bags. Shoppers for the foreseeable future will still have the option of asking for paper bags. Kroger said it is also looking to cut back or phase out plastic bags for produce and meat, but it’s focusing on eliminating checkout bags for now. The ban will directly affect a wide swath of consumers: Kroger serves 9 million customers every day at its nearly 2,800 stores in 35 states and the District of Columbia. Kroger’s Seattle-based QFC subsidiary, with 63 stores in the Pacific Northwest, will be the first division to eliminate the bags by 2019. [Source: The Enquirer]

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