Breaking News in the Industry: February 15, 2019

Employee run over trying to stop theft of $10,000 bike

Police in Chino, California, are looking for three people wanted on suspicion of stealing a $10,000 bicycle and using their truck to run over an employee trying to stop the thieves. The unidentified female employee suffered significant injuries, said Chino Police spokeswoman Tamrin Olden. She said two men walked into Incycle Bikes and stole a bike valued at $10,000. They then got into a truck and tried to flee, the spokeswoman said. “An employee attempted to stop the suspects and was ran over, suffering significant injuries. They also hit another vehicle before fleeing the area,” Mrs. Olden said.

The first of three suspects is a Caucasian man, possibly in his 20s. He is approximately 5-feet-9 inches tall and weighs between 185 and 195 pounds. He was wearing a black baseball cap, sunglasses, a black Hollister hooded sweatshirt, ripped denim jeans and black shoes. The second man is a Caucasian or Hispanic man in his 20s. He is 5-feet 11 inches tall and weighs about 165 pounds. He was wearing a white and blue baseball cap, sunglasses, a black jacket with a gray hood, a red and blue flannel shirt, black pants and black shoes with white lining. Police said the third suspect, a female, has a thin build, short stature with brown hair worn in a bun. She was also wearing sunglasses, a thick black hooded sweatshirt and red lipstick.

The woman was possibly the getaway driver. They fled in a blueish-gray GMC Sierra truck with a black paper plate on the rear and chrome detailing on the sides. There was missing chrome trim on the left rear door. Anyone with information can email Detective Carrino or call him at 217.334.3005.   [Source: Chino Champion]

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Grocery store chain owner charged in $307,000 coupon fraud scam

The owner of four Pennsylvania area Shop ‘n Save grocery stores was charged Wednesday with a variety of crimes in relation to what detectives called a longstanding coupon clipping scheme that netted participants more than $300,000 in inappropriate reimbursements. According to a complaint and affidavit filed by the Allegheny County District Attorney’s Office, Michael John Mihelic, 59, of Franklin Park, ordered employees to clip coupons from newspapers, collect them and turn them in to manufacturers as if they had been used by customers. The coupons were submitted even though corresponding sales of the products had not occurred, detectives contend.

Mr. Mihelic is the owner of the Rochester Road, Pines Plaza, Glenshaw and Richland Mall Shop ‘n Save stores, according to the affidavit. He faces charges of dealing in proceeds of illegal activity, theft by deception, receiving stolen property and criminal conspiracy. A former employee of Shop ‘n Save on Rochester Road in Ross reported to detectives that for years, the ownership and store managers had collected coupons from newspapers that had not been sold. Managers were ordered to clip several hundred dollars worth of coupons per week, according to detectives.

Detectives conducted several interviews, then joined local police in executing search warrants on the stores on October 17. They have calculated that $306,550 in additional coupons were submitted through a processing company to product manufacturers for reimbursement. Mr. Mihelic could not be reached Wednesday at his home or stores.   [Source: Pittsburgh Post-Gazette]

Feds rule retailer violated medical marijuana law

Walmart discriminated against an worker at an Arizona store when it fired the employee, a medical marijuana cardholder, solely due to a positive drug test, a federal judge ruled last week in the U.S. District Court for the District of Arizona (Whitmire v. Walmart Stores, Inc., No. 3:17-cv-08108  (D. Ariz. Feb. 7, 2018)).

Carol Whitmire, a Walmart employee, obtained an Arizona medical marijuana card in 2013 and began smoking the drug before bed as both a sleep aid and treatment for chronic pain. In 2016, she injured her wrist on the job. She filed an incident report with Walmart the same day, but did not seek medical attention at the time. Two days later she notified HR of continued swelling and pain in her wrist. A personnel coordinator directed her to an urgent care clinic the next day for a wrist examination and post-accident urine drug test. The drug screen tested positive for marijuana metabolites and the employer concluded that “upon reasonable belief, [her] positive test result for marijuana indicated that she was impaired by marijuana during her shift that same day.” Whitmire was suspended for the positive test and eventually fired.

Whitmire filed suit, alleging she was wrongfully terminated and/or discriminated against in violation of various state laws. A federal district court judge granted sua sponte summary judgment in part for the plaintiff on the question of Walmart’s liability for discrimination under the Arizona Medical Marijuana Act (AMMA). “Without any evidence that Plaintiff ‘used, possessed or was impaired by marijuana’ at work, … it is clear that Defendant discriminated against Plaintiff in violation of A.R.S. § 36-2813(B)(2) of the AMMA by suspending and then terminating Plaintiff solely based on her positive drug screen,” the judge said.   [Source: HRDIVE]

LP associate fired after tackling wanted man now testing to become deputy

You may recall the story about a Best Buy loss prevention associate who got fired last month for tackling a wanted man who punched and ran from sheriff’s deputies in the store’s parking lot. First off, after word spread about the actions of the heroic LP associate and Best Buy’s rather unpopular response, the company curiously walked back its termination decision, saying it “had reason to take another look at what happened.” The company would later offer the LPA his job back.

Well, you’re apparently too late, Best Buy. Because your loss prevention associate, Tyler Metildi, is now testing to become a deputy trainee for the very sheriff’s department he helped on the night of January 11.  The Placer County (California) Deputy Sheriff’s Association posted the news on its Facebook page, noting that Metildi’s “quick thinking and courage … aided in the apprehension of a felony suspect.”

“Tyler is a US Army Veteran that served with the 10th Mountain Division in Afghanistan in 2014,” the post also said. “Tyler was an 11B Infantryman and still lives his military virtues as we see here.” The sheriff’s office on Monday also honored the 26-year-old for his actions with the Citizen’s Medal of Merit for “choosing to act” instead of remaining a bystander during the incident, the Press Tribune said.  [Source: The Blaze]

Duo arrested after assaulting AP associate

Police in Columbus, Ohio, arrested two people on charges of theft at a local store after a store asset protection associate was battered trying to apprehend them. Officers were sent to Target store  Wednesday about a theft that had just occurred and the AP associate being battered while attempting to stop a woman, said Lt. Matt Harris, Columbus Police Department spokesman.

Officers located the suspected vehicle on Middle Road and stopped it a short time later, Harris said. They found that passenger Jennifer L. Bunting, 27, Columbus, the woman identified from the store, had stolen merchandise in her possession and also inside a vehicle driven by Damon L. Bailey, 20, Columbus, Harris said.

They also found two syringes as well as drug paraphernalia inside the car. Bunting’s infant child, also in the vehicle, was cared for by Child Protective Services who went to the scene to assist officers. Bunting was arrested on preliminary charges of battery, theft, possession of a syringe and possession of drug paraphernalia, Harris said.   [Source: The Republic]

Kindhearted employee helps senior avoid further loss in scam

An employee at a Nebraska Target helped a customer who was being scammed prevent any further loss, although the victim was already out $10,000. Lincoln Police (LPD) said on February 12 around noon, a Target employee reported they believed a customer was being scammed when a 71-year-old woman went to the electronics department to purchase a phone for someone else.

The woman was going to use a Discover card with someone else’s name, police said, and the Target employee asked the woman about her purchase. The victim told the employee she was purchasing the phone for a man she met online and provided the man’s name. The man, Robert Crane, had a 508 telephone prefix, and the employee recognized another woman making a previous purchase for a man with the same name a few weeks prior, according to LPD.

Asset protection team members spoke to the customer and learned she met the man on Facebook over a year ago and has been purchasing iPhone gift cards for him. The estimated loss for the woman is roughly $10,000.   [Source: 1011 Now]

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