Breaking News in the Industry: August 4, 2017

What Is A Shoplifter, people who steal, retail store theft

Woman charged with robbery, theft; Uses stun gun to escape

An Indiana woman was charged Tuesday in Allen Superior Court after she allegedly took items from Kohl’s and used a stun gun to get away, according to court documents. Tyresha S. Thomas, 30, was charged with robbery, a Level 3 felony, and theft, a Level 6 felony. Thomas allegedly entered a Kohl’s Department Store shortly after 3:30 p.m. July 26 and left with items, according to a probable-cause affidavit. The loss prevention associate attempted to stop Thomas, who then allegedly displayed a stun gun and continued to flee to the parking lot, where another loss prevention associate attempted to stop Thomas.

When Thomas allegedly discharged the stun gun, the officer backed off, allowing Thomas to get into a maroon Nissan and leave the scene, the affidavit said. Police later saw a maroon Nissan weave in and out of traffic at a high rate of speed at the 112 mile marker of Interstate 69. Police conducted a traffic stop, where one of the loss prevention officers positively identified Thomas, who allegedly had $1,846.96 worth of Kohl’s merchandise in the vehicle, the affidavit said.  [For more: News-Sentinel]

Fourteen arrested in 4 days for shoplifting in Overland Park, police blame websites

The Organized Retail Crimes Unit with the Overland Park police department are focusing more efforts online. Those efforts include shoplifting websites where thieves tell other thieves where and how to steal. The popular website Reddit has a thread about shoplifting and even a post titled, “How to lift from Walmart,” for example. Detective Sergeant Allan Keith says they’re seeing a decrease in armed robberies but an increase in retail thefts because shoplifting is lucrative. “On these websites, people will talk about shop lifting and boosting. And they will give tips to others. They will talk about their haul as they call it. Almost like a competition,” said Keith. The most recent arrest at an Overland Park area strip mall is one of 593 shoplifting events reported in Overland Park this year. Detective Keith says the hot items are designer clothes and designer handbags and many of the shoplifters work in teams. One person distracts the sales associate as the other steals merchandise.  [For more: KSHB41 News

Cosmetics theft ring nabs $70K from CVS & Walgreen

A gang of makeup thieves is responsible for ripping off several drug stores of thousands of dollars in products around the Miami area, according to authorities. An investigation by Miami-Dade Police’s Organized Retail Crime Unit led to the arrests of four women, believed to part of a ring who would steal cosmetics from stores and sell them at far below retail cost. On numerous occasions between April and July, sisters Crystal Pereda, 27, and Jazmin Pereda, 21, along with Jennifer Tejeda, 33, were observed walking into CVS and Walgreens stores in Miami and stuffing cosmetics into their purses, police said. Typically, each theft would range between $300 and $1,100 worth of stuff taken. They were seen driving in a black Chrysler 300. During the course of the investigation, detectives also obtained a search warrant at the home of Ihosvania Guerra-Ferreiro, 50, located at 2800 S.W. 79th Court, whom they said acted as a “fencing operation” for the stolen products.

On August 1st, officers executed the search warrant and found 6,982 cosmetic items, valued at $69,368.63, inside the home. “They go and sell to the lady fencing these items, purchasing them at $1 and $2 apiece,” said Sgt. Carlos Rosario. “These items were low-risk and not expensive, selling for $5.99 to $12.99 so they were not tagged with sensors and can be easily put in purses.” A purchase was being made at the time between Guerra-Ferreiro and another woman who was buying lipstick for $2, an arrest report said. Guerra-Ferreiro confessed to charging roughly $1 or $2 for many of the products, a large mark-down. She was charged with dealing in stolen property. The other three women were subsequently arrested and charged with multiple counts of grand theft. The Pereda sisters confessed in both verbal and written statements, police said. Tejeda invoked her Miranda rights. Police added this kind of theft creates a snowball effect. “This is very unfortunate for the local economy,” said Sgt. Rosario. “People are going to stores and loading their bags with goods. What this does is inflate prices at the stores for goods, in this case cosmetics.”  [For more: CBS Miami]

Employee charged with fraud in $280K warranty refund scheme

A former Spectrum Brands customer service representative was indicted Wednesday after federal prosecutors said he took nearly $281,000 in company funds by submitting false warranty claims, some of them in the names of friends, family and participants in a beauty pageant organization that he founded. Shonn Northam, 46, of Briggsville, was charged in a 24-count indictment, filed in U.S. District Court in Madison, with mail and wire fraud, money laundering and identity theft for the scheme, which prosecutors said took place between February 2013 and November 2014. The U.S. Attorney’s Office said Northam faces up to 20 years in prison on each of the six mail fraud, five wire fraud and five money-laundering counts. He also faces a mandatory minimum two years in prison on each of the eight identity theft charges, which would be served consecutively to any other sentence he receives. The loss to Spectrum was about $280,644, prosecutors said. According to the indictment, Northam was a customer service representative in Middleton-based Spectrum’s small appliance division, where he was responsible for evaluating warranty claims for defective products.

As part of the warranty scheme, Northam filled in false information on Spectrum forms, purportedly on behalf of customers reporting defective items, which he forwarded to his supervisor for approval and for the issuance of checks to qualifying customers. In some cases, Northam changed the spelling of the customers’ names when seeking multiple payments to the same purported customer in order to bypass Spectrum’s internal controls for catching fraudulent claims. When asked why he had checks sent to him, instead of directly to customers, Northam told his supervisor that he could get the checks out to customers faster.  [For more: State-Journal]

Four suspects accused of stealing over $3,000 worth of merchandise

Four suspects, including one juvenile, are facing charges after allegedly stealing over $3,600 worth of merchandise from Macy’s. Fairview Heights officers were called to the Macy’s in St. Clair Square mall on Saturday around 4 pm where the store’s loss prevention associates attempted to stop three suspects.  According to reports, the suspects stole an assortment of clothing items and the store’s security was at first able to stop one of the three suspects. Once the suspects saw that one of the suspects had been detained by loss prevention associates, the two suspects returned along with a fourth suspect, a woman, and began to fight with the associates. One of the LP associates was punched and scratched by the woman as the other suspects freed the suspect who had been captured, said police.

Fairview Heights Police arrived in the area and attempted to stop the van, but were not able to catch up to the suspects until the van hit traffic. Officers approached the van at the intersection of North Illinois at the main mall entrance and were able to disable the van so the suspects were not able to flee back to Missouri. All four suspects including Danny R. Julian, Randy Robinson, Aletha D. Smooths, and a juvenile were taken into custody. Police recovered approximately $3,600 in merchandise from the vehicle while taking the suspects into custody. On Monday, the St. Clair County State Attorney’s office issued charges for each suspect including: Danny Julian, 37; Randy Robinson, 31, and Alethea Simmons, 36. The fourth suspect, a 12-year-old juvenile has been referred to a juvenile court for charges. The Macy’s security officer received scratches and bruises from being punched by one of the suspects but did not require medical treatment.  [For more: KMOV41 News]

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Uniqlo to sell clothing via vending machines

After a US store expansion that fizzled a few years ago, fashion retailer Uniqlo is trying something new: selling its wares from vending machines. The hip Japanese clothing chain owned by Fast Retailing known for trendy yet inexpensive down coats, jeans, and t-shirts with heating technology, is rolling out 10 vending machines in the next two months at airports and malls in several key US cities including New York and Houston, the Wall Street Journal reported on Wednesday. The Journal reported that the six-feet-high vending machines will a limited assortment, largely heat-retaining shirts and lightweight down jackets and items will be dispensed in boxes and cans and customers can return them at a store or by mail.  The move comes two years after the retailer scaled back its ambitious US expansion plan as sales fell short and the company recognized that awareness of the brand was wanting outside of a few large markets. (Uniqlo, which has about 45 US stores, at one point hinted it could reach 200 by 2020.) The retailer is instead focusing on tools such as pop-up stores and vending machines and focusing its big retail presence on flagship stores in places like New York’s SoHo district.

As Marisol Tamaro, Uniqlo’s US marketing chief, told the Journal, vending machines are relatively cheap to operate compared to a store and can reach a lot of travelers. Fortune did not reach Uniqlo for comment. Globally, the travel retail market is expected to grow more than 8% per year through 2021, according to a Global Duty-Free Retailing Market 2017-2021. And the US Department of Commerce projects the US will see a 3.3% annual increase in international visitor volume through that year. These stats, which don’t include domestic travel, are a key reason many retailers have built up more of a presence at airports. Such vending machines are fixtures at countless airports for retailers like Best Buy which offers items like noise-canceling headphones and electronics that help pass the time. But such purchases are practical and don’t require being felt like clothes often do to persuade a customer. And there is no personal interaction, something critical in selling fashion. Still, they offer the chance for incremental sales and also can serve as effective advertising.  [For more: Fortune]

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