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Breaking News in the Industry: December 14, 2018

ICE agents seize $5M in counterfeit merchandise

In El Paso, Texas, while cracking down on counterfeit items this holiday season, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and Homeland Security Investigation (HSI) agents say they see a spike in fake merchandise, a mult-ibillion-dollar industry.
 When you make your Christmas list, you check it twice. HSI El Paso Special Agent in Charge Jack Staton says you should check your gift twice, too. “Counterfeiters will counterfeit anything. Automotive parts, toothpaste, shampoo, chapstick,” said Staton. He said they’ve even seen things like counterfeit toner for printers and brake pads for cars.

There are some items you might expect, like knockoff handbags and fake sports jerseys. KFOX14 Investigates learned almost 500 counterfeit items with a combined $5 million price tag were seized in the El Paso sector this year. “We are looking at protecting public health and safety,” said Staton. This year, agents say they’re seeing more fake makeup and contact lenses than ever before, which can be a safety hazard for consumers, because counterfeiters will put anything into the product. “In some cases, we’ve had lead in there. We’ve had sheet rock crushed up,” he said.   [KFOX14 News]

Twenty-five mile pursuit of suspects ends with 5 arrested

Four women and one man between the ages of 17 and 20 were arrested Wednesday morning after leading Fort Worth, Texas, police on a nearly 25-mile chase after they were suspected of shoplifting from a sporting goods store. The suspects were spotted around 9 p.m. by an off-duty Fort Worth detective who happened to be shopping at Dick’s Sporting Goods , the Fort Worth Star-Telegram reported. Tianaja Williams, 20; Jocelyn Nelson, 20; Marshalynn Greer, 18; Victor Ybarra, 18, and one 17-year-old face charges of theft, evading arrest and organized criminal activity.

Police said they were trying to shoplift a large amount of Nike clothing products. The group fled to a nearby getaway vehicle, then led police on a high-speed chase through a large area that included five patrol divisions and the city of Benbrook some 25 miles away from the store, Fort Worth police Capt. Todd Wadlington told the newspaper. The pursuit ended when the fleeing vehicle ran over some traffic spikes that had been placed in the road in west Fort Worth, the Star-Telegram reported. No one was hurt, and all of the stolen property was recovered.   [Police One]

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PD partner with Amazon, using ‘bait boxes’ to catch crooks

Police in Jersey City, New Jersey, are coordinating with Amazon to plant fake Amazon parcels with GPS tracking on doorsteps equipped with doorbell cameras in a sting operation to catch thieves, reported the Associated Press. Police officers said one box sat out for just three minutes before it was taken; the culprit was later caught. Similar operations involving various package carriers have taken place in Washington, California, Utah and New Mexico, according to Associated Press.   [Source: SupplyChainDIVE]

Woman makes a ‘drive-through’ liquor store to snatch Jim Beam

A Florida woman crashed a car into a liquor store early Tuesday and then stole a bottle of Jim Beam bourbon whiskey, according to officials with the Belleview Police Department. Shortly after 5:30 a.m., BPD officers responded to the Winn-Dixie Liquor Store in response to an alarm. The front glass door was significantly damaged. Store surveillance video showed a woman driving a Nissan Altima into the door.

The woman, who was wearing a gray sweatshirt and dark pants, got out of the car and went inside. She took a 1.75 liter bottle of Jim Beam that had a sale price of $23.99, with an extra $10 off. An employee who viewed the film told officers that the woman, Suzanne Campbell, lives next door to the store. Officers went to the home, on Southeast where they saw the car, which had damage on the front right passenger side. Inside the vehicle was a half-empty bottle of Jim Beam.

An ambulance was called for and Campbell was taken to the Summerfield Emergency Room for treatment for high alcohol intake. Police said she had to be cleared twice from the hospital before she could be booked at the Marion County Jail. Campbell faces charges of burglary, retail theft and criminal mischief. She remained at the jail with bail set at $6,000.   [Source: Ocala StarBanner]

LP Solutions

Police use humor to get their holiday crime message heard

As it relates to public service announcements, it’s not an easy trick to inform an audience on a criminal scourge by employing humor while making the message entertaining yet informative. In alerting residents to package thefts that spike during the holidays, the Round Rock Police Department manages to pull it off. In a reprise of its November holiday advisory, the police department created a video fashioned like a game show alerting residents to thefts of holiday packages from front porches. An abundant number of packages delivered during the holidays are easy targets for thieves who troll neighborhoods searching for parcels left in unattended homes.

The video aims to let residents know about “Operation Front Porch,” a free service launched last year by the Round Rock Police Department designed to safeguard residents’ mailed packages. The video titled “What’s On Your Front Porch!” lets viewers know of the initiative running through Dec. 22. The promotional video for the free service features an actor portraying game show host Phil Felony interviewing a character named Misty Meanor (as in “misdemeanor”) about her thievery tactics. “There she goes, folks!” Felony tells viewers in affected stentorian delivery after a brief interview as the camera follows the faux thief in skillfully retrieving a package. “Look at that form!” Felony exclaims. “Stride for stride, straight to the front porch! There’s no hesitation there!” Think Monty Hall of “Let’s Make a Deal” but involving ill-gotten gains rather than valuable prizes won fairly. Too old a reference? Think Drew Carey on the Price Is Right post-Bob Barker but also involving purloined packages.   [Source: Round Rock Patch]

Analysts claim rise in robots may make coffee obsolete?

The consumer edition of RBC’s “Imagine 2025” report estimates that $2 trillion in annual US wages could be affected by automation. The report delves into many consequences of the rise of automation and artificial intelligence, including robots taking over a vast number of jobs from everyone from warehouse workers to waiters.The report also includes a less obvious outcome of the robot takeover: coffee and other caffeinated drinks becoming obsolete. “AI will minimize the amount of grunt work from manufacturing, driving trucks or cars anywhere, back office, really most jobs that may require a caffeine boost,” the report states.

“These caffeine-related jobs will either evolve or go away.” Cannabidiol (CBD) may become the ultimate complement for caffeine, helping consumers relax,” the report reads. “In fact, we could foresee a scenario where CBD and other relaxing agents become MORE popular than caffeine/stimulants as consumers continue to feel the stress/anxiety of technology-related stimuli (work, social media, etc).” CBD is one of the non-psychoactive compounds found in cannabis. The ingredient is used in salves, oils, balms, and beverages, creating a $1 billion business despite ongoing legal questions.   [Source: Business Insider]

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