Breaking News in the Industry: December 12, 2018

Almost 200 shoplifters arrested during holiday season task force

A special Tennessee task force with the Knox County Sheriff’s Office made nearly 200 arrests connected to retail crime during the holiday season this year. The sheriff’s office said its Organized Retail Crime Unit Task Force arrested 173 adults, 17 juveniles, and recovered $52,584 worth of stolen property and three stolen vehicles.

While petty theft is common nationwide, organized retail crime is a particular problem in East Tennessee. State Representative Jason Zachary passed a bill in 2015 that made the creation of an Organized Retail Crime Unit possible for Knox County and other departments statewide. The Knox County Sheriff’s Office reports so far this year, Belk, Home Depot and Kohl’s are the stores where they’ve recovered the most stolen merchandise.   [Source: WBIR10 News]

Duo arrested in $35,000 credit card fraud scheme

Casper police officers arrested two men in connection with a large alleged credit card fraud scheme which included over 300 fraudulent ATM transactions and over $60,000 being taken. Michael Voss, 37, was booked into jail on a charge of credit card fraud and an immigration hold. Ionut Manea, 35, was arrested on a single charge of credit card fraud.

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According to charging documents, the Casper Police Department was notified of fraudulent ATM activity at Jonah Bank on Nov. 27. The activity had occurred five days earlier from midnight through 6 p.m. and involved 70 different transactions by 17 different cards from the same credit union in Arizona. During that time, $19,600 was removed from the ATM.

Video surveillance showed two men making the transactions and further investigation revealed a suspect vehicle in the parking lot of a Candlewood Suites in Casper. There they made contact with one of the suspects who was staying in a room that had been rented by Voss, and the men identified themselves as Manea and Voss. They were both interviewed at the Casper Police Department. Manea was found to have been in possession of $800 in twenty-dollar bills, while Voss had $120 in twenty-dollar bills on his person.

Inside the hotel room, detectives found the keys to two vehicles as well as a magnetic stripe reader/encoder, four cell phones, two laptops, $2,900 in twenty-dollar bills, thirty Vanilla gift cards that had magnetic stripes and four-digit codes handwritten on the backs, a Romanian passport belonging to Manea and a Danish passport in Voss’s name.

The Arizona credit union told a detective that their clients’ credit card numbers had been used at ATMs in Laramie, Rock Springs and Casper from Nov. 16 through Dec. 6 in a total of 352 transactions. The suspects had taken a combined $61,052, though they had attempted to withdraw $110,471. Casper police believe the Arizona credit union clients’ card numbers were likely compromised via a “skimming” device placed at fuel pumps at a known chain of gas stations in the Phoenix, Arizona area.

Manea and Voss are believed to be in the country legally. They were both arrested. Police note that in Natrona County, Voss and Manea made over 70 fraudulent ATM transactions since Nov. 21 and took at least $35,000, though that number is likely to increase in both Natrona County and across multiple states as the investigation continues.   [Source: K2 Radio]

Police officers pay for the boots the suspect was trying to steal

A young man was caught trying to steal a pair of work boots at a Walmart in Kansas, but when police officers learned what his motives were, they decided to help him out instead of punishing him. The authorities received a call that a juvenile had been taken into custody at the superstore after getting caught in the act. When they responded, they discovered the boy was a “displaced juvenile within the State of Kansas Justice system” living in a group home.

He told the police he needed the boots so he could get a job. After hearing his story, the officers were compelled to buy the boy the boots rather than arrest him. They also gave him “some words of encouragement,” telling him to find a job, finish school and stay out of trouble. According to the post, the officers’ kind act left the boy “with tears in his eyes” and made an impression on the entire police department.

“Just another reason why I am so proud of my officers here in Roeland Park. I just smiled when I heard this story a short time ago as it almost made me cry too. Congrats to Officer Suffield and Officer Snepp for making another difference in RP and for a job well done….”     [Source: Fox News Channel]

‘Operation Fa La La Larceny’ nabs 53

“Operation Fa La La Larceny” was a joint effort between police in Lexington and the Kentucky Organized Retail Crime Association. From December 3 through December 6, officers worked with loss prevention personnel at stores along the Nicholaville Road corridor, focusing on catching alleged shoplifters. Officers criminally charged 53 people, arrested 47 people, issued 10 criminal citations and served 7 arrest warrants.

In all, $8,267 in stolen property was recovered. The recovered merchandise included jewelry, fragrances, cosmetics, clothing, handbags, batteries, and alcohol. Lexington Police Sgt. Donnell Gordon said operations like this one help to keep prices lower and keep the public honest. “If they know that we may be undercover out here watching and also working with the retail stores, then a lot of times that will keep crime down during the holiday season,” Sgt. Gordon said.    [Source: WKYT News]

Employee arrested, charged for embezzlement

A 29-year-old Detroit woman was arrested after she allegedly embezzled over $800 from Home Depot. Police were called to the store at 4:27 p.m. on a call of an embezzlement. When they arrived, loss prevention associates told police they had an employee in custody who had been embezzling from the store since July.

They told police on five separate occasions, the woman would scan items at a register for a man who was acting as a customer. She would then void the items and let the man walk out of the store without paying for them. LP said the same unidentified man was involved in all transactions. Loss prevention associates provided police with copies of the transactions and a hard drive with in-store security footage of the incidents. They told police the total loss for the store was $813.   [Source: Press & Guide]

Retailer settles discrimination probe with the feds

Federal officials say a nationwide investigation found that a North Carolina women’s clothing retail chain discriminated against pregnant workers and workers with disabilities. The Charlotte Observer reports The Cato Corporation has agreed to pay $3.5 million to settle the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’s investigation. The agency announced Monday that the Charlotte-based company denied reasonable accommodations for those workers and made some workers take unpaid leave or terminated them because of their disabilities.

The agency says Cato’s practices violated the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Civil Rights Act of 1964. An EEOC release says Cato has agreed to update its policies to prevent discrimination against those workers. It says a claims process will allow the settlement to be distributed to workers terminated because of their pregnancy or disability. Cato’s website says it has more than 1,000 stores in 32 states.   [Source: AP News]

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