Breaking News in the Industry: December 3, 2018

Employee gets 17-count indictment for theft of $200,000

A Hibbett Sports Inc. employee was indicted Thursday on multiple counts of wire fraud and bank fraud. A federal grand jury issued the 17-count indictment against Julia Hollis Meyers, a 53-year-old Pell City, Alabama, woman. The announced was made by US Attorney Jay E. Town and FBI Special Agent in Charge Johnnie Sharp.

Allegedly Meyers engaged in a scheme to direct ACH payments from Hibbett Sports to her personal bank account. The defendant’s scheme resulted in Meyers stealing over $200,000 from her employer. The FBI investigated the case, which Assistant US Attorney Robin Beardsley Mark is prosecuting. The maximum penalty for each count of wire fraud is 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. The maximum penalty for each count of bank fraud is 30 years and a $1 million fine.   [Source: AL.com]

Twenty retailers partner with PD for holiday blitz

In Kentucky, several people are finding themselves on the wrong side of the law as Louisville Metro Police and St. Matthews Police continued their third annual shoplifting blitz. Police are working with some 20 retailers to catch thieves in the act. The two day event is good news for other shoppers, because crime prevention officers say the losses to the stores have to be made up somewhere, in ways like higher prices.

- Sponsors -

From the malls, to Meijer and Kroger stores, to Kohls… loss prevention teams keep their eyes on shoppers inside, messaging LMPD and SMPD plainclothes and uniformed officers through an app to let them know to come to a theft in progress. “Each day we had roughly 28 LMPD officers and detectives assigned, and I think a dozen or so St. Matthews officers,” LMPD 8th Division Major Jamey Schwab said.

From Oxmoor to Springhurst, Middletown Commons and beyond, alleged thieves are getting caught in the act. On day one of two, they made three felony arrests, and nine misdemeanor arrests. “Sometimes we’re approached and we’re asked why are we focusing so much energy on something like shoplifting,” Schwab said. “But shoplifting goes hand and hand with drug use, drug sales, and that also leads eventually to violence.” Thursday police also served five warrants.   [Source: Wave3 News]

‘Grandparent scams’ thwarted by alert retail employees

Alert retail employees in Illinois  saved two seniors from becoming fraud victims, after they bought numerous gift cards to spring their grandchildren out of jail. Palos Park police are following up on two occurrences of this senior scam that occurred November 28. According to police, a Palos Park woman was contacted by phone, which caller ID indicated was coming from the “Aurora Police Department.” The caller indicated that the woman’s grandson was in police custody, but because of a court ordered “gag order,” the caller was only allowed to say that her grandson needed $500 in gift cards to bond him out of jail.

The woman went to the Orland Hills Walmart and secured the gift cards, but she was advised by Walmart employees that she was falling victim to a scam. The woman left Walmart and contacted the Palos Park Police Department. In the second incident, a senior persisted in buying $500 worth of gift cards, despite being told by Walgreens and Jewel employees that she was being taken by the grandparent scam, police said.   [Source: Palos Patch]

K9 helps find suspect hiding in swamp

A police K9 in Eau Claire, Wisconsin, helped officers find a theft suspect hiding in a swamp, and bring him into custody Tuesday. According to the Eau Claire Police Department, on Tuesday evening officers were called to Menards South after a retail theft suspect punched the Loss Prevention associate while attempting to steal a tablet.

The suspect, 52-year-old Steven B. Luken fled from Menards and went into a nearby swamp. Officers responded along with K9 Jake and his handler Officer O’Connell. Jake alerted Officer O’Connell to Luken’s presence in the cattails and Officer O’Connell immediately began commanding Luken to come out of the swamp.

Luken was warned if he ran K9 Jake would be sent to apprehend him and he immediately began to cooperate and come out of the swamp. The tablet was located in the cattails and Luken was taken into custody without incident. Luken was arrested for Strong Armed Robbery, Battery, Disorderly Conduct, and a felony warrant.   [Source: WEAU13 News]

ORC ‘grab and dash’ ring busted

Lafayette Police in Louisiana have arrested four people in connection with an organized retail theft investigation. Police say the group has managed in recent months to steal over $13,000 in goods from retail stores around the Lafayette area. The suspects, according to police, would post the stolen items online and on social media accounts for sale. Police say during a recent theft attempt, one of the suspects allegedly used pepper spray on a loss prevention associate who was trying to prevent the theft. Other theft charges are currently pending for all four suspects.   [Source: kATC13 News]

High-end shoppers get punked by shoe store

Payless recently took over a former Armani store in Santa Monica, California, and stocked it with $19.99 pumps and $39.99 boots. The brand reopened the shop as “Palessi” and invited influencers to offer their opinions on the “designer” products, according to Adweek. Payless launched a website and Instagram page for Palessi and put videos about the stunt on YouTube.

Attendees didn’t know they were looking at discount footwear from Payless and praised the products’ look, materials and craftsmanship, saying they would pay hundreds of dollars for the items. The top offer was $640 for a pair of the shoes, which is a 1,800% markup over usual prices at the discount shoe retailer. Palessi sold about $3,000 worth of products in the first few hours.

The shop rang up the purchases, but didn’t keep the money. The cash was returned to the influencers, who got to keep the shoes for free. Payless captured their shocked reactions to learning about the stunt and is turning them into short- and longer-form ads, which will run on cable TV networks, including Bravo, Lifetime, TBS, Telemundo and USA, and on social channels, like YouTube, Facebook and Instagram, through the holidays.   [Source: MarketingDIVE]