Breaking News in the Industry: August 24, 2018

Five in custody, up to five more at large after another iPhone heist

Police in California are looking for more suspects after arresting five who allegedly startled shoppers while fleeing an apparent organized theft with 38 iPhones at the Apple store at the Fashion Island shopping center in Newport Beach on Tuesday evening, Aug 21. The iPhones are valued at $32,000, said Jennifer Manzella, a spokeswoman for Newport Beach police. The five were arrested on suspicion of conspiracy and burglary.

At about 8:30 p.m., five to 10 young men were seen running through Fashion Island toward parking lots, according to witnesses. Manzella said the men fled in two vehicles: a Dodge Challenger and a Mercedes sedan. “We were near the Apple store and, all of a sudden, we see these people running at the speed of lightning right past us,” said Realtor Andrew Karigan. “They came in waves, one group of about four, and then another wave of four.”

One group managed to get into a car and drive as far as Westminster, where they were stopped by police on a surface street near the I-405 freeway overpass and Springdale Street, said Newport Beach Lt. Rachel Johnson. Johnson said the occupants of the vehicle were in possession of stolen electronics, and added that they did not resist arrest and were taken into custody by about 9 p.m. Twenty-two iPhones were recovered.

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They were identified as Deavon Justice Guillory, 20, of Long Beach; Kenyae Emil Buyard, 18, Compton; Dejon Amere Sanders, 20, Los Angeles; Kovey Le James, 18, Los Angeles; and Hysanii Kiesean Rice, 18, Los Angeles. However, another vehicle full of people may have gotten away, and as many as five other suspects may still be at large, Johnson said. Johnson speculated that the people involved in Tuesday’s burglary may be a retail-theft crew possibly connected to a rash of similar crimes. “You don’t expect theft at Fashion Island,” said Karigan.”You never see it happen here.”   [Source: The Orange County Register]

Task force nabs three in high-dollar ORC Ring

An Oklahoma City police task force and local mall investigators took down three suspects associated with an organized retail theft ring. The women were arrested Tuesday morning. Police said the task force had been tracking Shatori McNack, 23, Chamiah Daniels, 25, and Kernisha Meadows, 27, for months. They are believed to have stolen $80,000 worth of merchandise from stores at Penn Square Mall over a span of three months. “Three of the people thought to be involved in this ring were at these stores yesterday,” said Officer Megan Morgan, Oklahoma City Police Department.

Court documents indicate one woman acted as a lookout, while the other two went into the store. They grabbed large amounts of women’s clothing and undergarments, then stuffed merchandise in bags. They were out of the store in about 30 seconds. Police caught up with two of the suspects in the mall parking lot, and the police helicopter located the third woman in her car. The female suspects were arrested on multiple complaints including grand larceny, conspiracy to commit a felony and committing a pattern of criminal offenses.

This is not their first run-in with the law. “Each of these individuals have been arrested with Oklahoma City Police Department,” said Morgan. “At least once for shoplifting.”  Task force investigators believe the arrested suspects are part of a larger organized theft ring but may have been responsible for the bulk of the loot.

“The unit will continue to investigate,” said Morgan. “They will continue working with local loss prevention and hopefully be able to get more suspect information now that they’ve got three of them in custody.” One of the suspects also admitted to carrying 90 counterfeit $100 bills in her car.   [Source: News9]

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Employee, boyfriend stole $5K from store

A Home Depot employee and her boyfriend have been indicted on felony theft charges after the two reportedly collaborated to steal more than $5,000 in merchandise from the Beaumont, Texas, business. Samone Smith, 22, and Latroy Gable, 24, were indicted Wednesday on state jail felony theft.

According to probable cause affidavits, Smith, of Port Arthur, worked at Home Depot in Beaumont between March and May when the thefts occurred. Gable, also of Port Arthur, would act as a customer and bring items to her register. Smith would ring up the smaller items and “let the larger, more expensive items pass without ringing them up,” the documents say. The two allegedly sold the stolen items on Facebook Marketplace. The stolen merchandise totaled $5,308.16.   [Source: Beaumont Enterprise]

Watch thief will wind up doing time

Time has run out for the man behind a series of daytime smash-and-grab robberies in Southern California targeting high-end wristwatches. Keith Walton, 47, of South Los Angeles, a senior member of the Inglewood Family Gangster Bloods, was sentenced this month to 55 years in federal prison for his role as ringleader of a crew that netted $6 million worth of Rolex and other high-end watches from jewelry stores in Thousand Oaks, Woodland Hills, Canoga Park and Malibu between August 2015 and April of this year.

At Walton’s Aug. 3 sentencing in Los Angeles federal court, U.S. District Judge Cormac J. Carney said he factored in the nature of the thefts—carried out during the daytime in malls filled with shoppers—when rendering his judgment. “(These crimes) terrified people and traumatized them for the rest of their lives,” Carney said.

During the gang’s robbery of the Ben Bridge Jeweler store at The Oaks mall on Feb. 7 this year, the sound of breaking glass caused some shoppers to suspect a shooting was taking place, leading to chaos. The Oaks robbery netted 35 Rolex watches with an approximate retail value of $298,000.

Walton is “likely the most dangerous, prolific and incorrigible criminal who has ever appeared before the court for sentencing,” prosecutors said in a memorandum filed with the court. The gang leader was one of five men convicted for their roles in the heists following a five-week trial held in the summer of 2017. The verdict against one defendant has since been overturned in the court of appeals, but prosecutors are challenging that ruling, according to the release.

In Walton’s case, the jury convicted him of conspiring to violate the Hobbs Act—a federal law covering crimes that affect interstate or foreign commerce— by planning the jewelry store robberies as well as participating in three of the robberies, two of which involved firearms. It was not the man’s first conviction: Walton’s extensive criminal record, prosecutors said, includes a 1995 federal conviction for participating in the armed robbery of a Texas drugstore. “Walton is dangerous, violent and manipulative,” the prosecution’s memorandum states. “He knows little else but crime and violence.”   [Source: The Acorn]

Police officer catches woman shoplifting kids’ school clothes… and does the most unexpected thing

A Connecticut police officer did perhaps the exact opposite of what some people might’ve thought he’d do when he discovered a woman purportedly shoplifting kids’ clothes from a local store. Loss prevention associates at a Fairfield, Connecticut, Kohl’s called the police on a woman that they suspected was stealing from the store in July. In early August, the officer’s story began making its rounds on the Internet.

Sgt. Hector Irizarry was the officer who responded to the Kohl’s shoplifting call, and once on the scene, arrested a 27-year-old woman who had allegedly been shoplifting at the clothing retailer. After Irizarry arrested the unnamed 27-year-old woman, he peeked inside her bag to see what could be so important that the woman — who was in the store with two young children — would risk stealing in the presence of minors. When Irizarry looked into the woman’s bag, he discovered that it was a whole lot of kids’ clothes — and as a father, immediately understood. “As I’m going through the bag, I notice that it’s a lot of children’s clothing,” Irizarry said, according to WABC-TV. Irizarry decided to help out the woman he’d just arrested.

“I took the clothes over to the cash register, I decided to pay for them myself and she didn’t know what I was doing,” Irizarry said. “Of course, she got emotional, the person with her got emotional and she asked ‘What can I do to pay you back?’” Irizarry’s responding request was for the woman to pay it forward, and help out someone in a tough situation when she’s able. Fairfield Police Chief Gary MacNamara told the outlet, “This is just another example of officers doing their job, and at the end of the day, saying, ‘I’m a dad, I care about your kids and I’m going to help you put clothes on your daughter.’”

Irizarry said that helping the woman out by purchasing the clothes she was so desperate to have just made sense to him. “It was just something I felt compelled to do, and it really came from the heart,” Irizarry explained. “I just wanted to show law enforcement in a positive light.” According to the Fairfield Citizen, the suspect — whom they later identified as Dannella Scarlett of Bridgeport, Connecticut — was charged with sixth-degree larceny. She was released and promised to appear in court on Aug. 29. [Source: The Blaze]

Rutgers football players facing charges in alleged $11K credit-card scam

Wednesday was payback day for eight Rutgers football players accused in an $11,000 credit-card fraud scheme, according to a published report. The eight — four of whom have already left the team — planned to turn themselves in to Middlesex County, NJ, authorities on Wednesday to face a variety of charges, NJ Advance Media reported. The report quoted Middlesex County Prosecutor Andrew Carey as saying that sophomore linebacker Brendan DeVera and defensive back K.J. Gray were the ringleaders of the scam — in which credit-card numbers were stolen and funds were lifted from Rutgers “Express Accounts” for personal use. The Express Accounts enable students to use their school IDs as debit cards.

DeVera and Gray — who have both been booted from the team for violating team rules — were charged with promoting organized street crime and money laundering. DeVera is already jailed on the charges, the report said. Facing charges of money laundering and fraudulent use of credit cards, according to the report, are redshirt junior linebacker Malik Dixon, redshirt freshman defensive back Edwin Lopez, senior defensive back Kobe Marfo and redshirt freshman linebacker Syhiem Simmons. Facing charges of credit-card fraud, the report said, are sophomore linebacker C.J. Onyechi and redshirt freshman defensive back Naijee Jones.

None of those players was listed on Rutgers’ online roster as of Wednesday. “We are very disappointed and frustrated,’’ Pat Hobbs, Rutgers’ director of intercollegiate athletics, told NJ Advance Media. “We have been working extremely hard to build a culture of excellence across the department and this news detracts from the great strides we have made. We will continue that work.”   [Source: New York Post]

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