Breaking News in the Industry: February 19, 2019

Man arrested in shoplift turned armed robbery, turned home invasion, turned carjacking

Police in Altamonte Springs, Florida, have arrested a man they suspect robbed a Walmart store and was later involved in an armed home invasion. Brandon Houston, 21, is charged with armed robbery, home invasion robbery with a firearm, and grand theft of a motor vehicle.

According to a press release from the Altamonte Springs Police Department, Houston was spotted by a loss prevention associate in Walmart stealing items and putting them in his waistband. They say when the LP associate attempted to escort him back into the store, Houston pulled out a gun, pointed it at the LPA and then took off on foot.

A short time later, police reportedly got a call about an armed home invasion at an apartment complex located near the Walmart. The victim claims that Houston entered his apartment, pulled out a handgun and demanded his car keys. Houston took off in the victim’s vehicle and refused to stop when officers ordered him to, according to police. Police say Houston was driving recklessly and they were able to take Houston into custody after he crashed into the front entrance of a residence. Authorities claim they found the gun used in both robberies in the driver side floor board. Houston was taken to the Orange County Jail.   [Source: Fox35 News]

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State Trooper dragged by shoplifter

A Kentucky State Police (KSP) trooper was injured while responding Friday to a shoplifting complaint. According to KSP, Trooper Zachery Edwards observed a man shoplifting at Minit Mart. The suspect left the store and entered a vehicle, and as Edwards attempted to ascertain the man’s identity, the vehicle accelerated, dragging Edwards a short distance.The suspect, later identified as Zackary S. Logan, 20, of Alvaton, struck another parked vehicle in the lot before driving away. The vehicle was located 10 minutes later by a Warren County Sheriff’s Office deputy.

Edwards was treated at The Medical Center and released for injuries to his head, hand and leg. Logan was arrested on charges of third-degree assault, first-degree wanton endangerment, first-degree wanton endangerment (police officer), reckless driving, theft by unlawful taking (less than $500), failure to wear seat belts, leaving the scene of an accident and operating a motor vehicle while under the influence.   [Source: BG Daily News]

National food stamp fraud could be up to $4.7 billion

According to a new report produced by the Government and Accountability Office (GAO), at least $1 billion in food stamp benefits are “trafficked annually,” meaning they are fraudulently used. The extent of the fraud is uncertain, the GAO warns, estimating the abuse of the program could be as high as $4.7 billion. About 20 million lower-income households receive benefits from the $64 billion Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), also known as food stamps, to buy food.

But GAO found that instead of being used for food, many stores are defrauding the program by “selling” cash instead of food. “For example, a store might give a person $50 in exchange for $100 in benefits – then pocket the difference,” GAO explains. The Food Nutrition Service (FNS) within the US Department of Agriculture oversees SNAP and is responsible for authorizing and overseeing retailers. The fraud, known as “retailer trafficking,” costs taxpayers at least $1 billion. However, the real cost could be “anywhere from $960 million to $4.7 billion,” the GAO adds.

“Welfare fraud is one of the biggest untold stories of the last decade, robbing resources from the truly needy and eroding public trust in the integrity of our welfare programs,” Sam Adolphsen, vice president of executive affairs at FGA, said in a statement. “While the bad-actor food stamp retailers exposed in this GAO report are in part to blame, we must not lose sight of the accountability that falls upon the food stamp recipient willing to commit fraud and abuse the system.” The FGA hopes to reduce fraud and abuse at the state level by uncovering discrepancies in each state’s eligibility systems by regularly reviewing their processes. “Too few states take these crimes seriously, and both states and the federal government can do more on this front,” FGA maintains.   [Source: The Washington Free Beacon]

C-store clerk attacked in Islamophobic hate crime

A California man was charged with a hate crime after allegedly punching and throwing hot coffee on a Sikh 7-Eleven employee. Surveillance video shows the man, identified as John Crain, attacking the clerk near the store’s exit. The employee told the Marysville Police Department that Crain had tried to leave without paying for his coffee, the Sacramento Bee reports.

Crain later admitted to assaulting the clerk and told the police that he hates Muslims, according to the Bee. Local news station CBS13 confirmed that the clerk was actually Sikh, not Muslim. Police said he was injured by the hot coffee and had a contusion on his face. Crain was arrested on Wednesday after police responded to reports of another assault in the area and found Crain, who they said matched the description from the earlier assault. Crain was booked into Yuba County Jail on charges of theft, assault and a hate crime. Yahoo! Lifestyle has reached out to the Marysville Police Department for comment.

Local Sikh and Muslim organizations condemned the attack in a statement: “We condemn this attack on an individual because of his faith,” said Saad Sweilem, civil rights attorney for the Sacramento Valley office of the Council on American-Islamic Relations. “This hate crime represents yet another attack on our Sikh brothers and sisters fueled by Islamophobia and those emboldened by this administration’s xenophobic policies and sentiments. We welcome the hate crime charges and encourage law enforcement to continue to take these clear incidents of bias seriously.”   [Source: Yahoo! Lifestyle]

Suspect threatens LPA saying ‘I’m going to kill you!’ then vanishes

Police in  Kennewick, Washington, are asking for the public’s help in locating a woman wanted for skipping her sentencing for a death threat harassment conviction. The woman, identified as Lindsey Bramlett, is wanted in the Tri-Cities area of Eastern Washington but hasn’t been seen since late last month. Police say Bramlett told a loss prevention associate, “I’m going to kill you” on her way out from shoplifting at a store in Kennewick, and she was then convicted of felony harassment.

She was also charged with theft and possession of drugs after Kennewick police found her hiding in the bathroom of a nearby restaurant and took her into custody. Police said she got out of jail and didn’t show up for sentencing on the felony harassment charge late last month… so now she has a warrant for her arrest. She has prior convictions for assault and forgery. Bramlett is 25 years old, stands 5-feet-5-inches and weighs about 140 pounds. Anyone with information on her whereabouts is urged to call the Crime Stoppers hot line at 800.222.TIPS (8477).   [Source: KOMO News]

Family’s van hijacked by fleeing shoplifter

A Speedway, Indiana, family is asking for help after their van was stolen right in front of their eyes. The victims say they were confronted by a carjacker trying to escape from a Kohl’s security guard. It’s not very far from the front door where the robbery happened to the nearby Kohl’s. The apartment complex and the store are separated by a grassy hill with no fence. In this case the victims were simply in the wrong place at the wrong time. Josh Miller found himself ambushed by the carjacker while he was carrying laundry to his front door. “He never said a word.  He grabbed the keys and took off,” Josh said. After snatching Josh’s keys, the robber jumped into his 2005 Honda Odyssey van and sped away.

According to the police report, it started as a shoplifting case. A store employee chased the thief out of Kohl’s.“I could not believe someone would be so desperate over petty theft that they would do that,” said Laura Miller. Laura said loss prevention associates from Kohl’s have chased shoplifters into their parking lot several times over the years.

In addition to their van, the Miller family had nearly all the clothes for their 2-year-old daughter stolen. They’re just hoping their stolen stuff can be returned. “We have stuff in there that we’ve spent a lot of hard-earned money on and that we can’t replace,” said Josh. For Valentine’s Day, Josh used window chalk to paint “I love you Allison Miller” and “I love you Megan Miller” on the van. Anyone with information on the suspect or the stolen van can contact Speedway police or Crime Stoppers at 317.262.TIPS.   [Source: Fox59 News]

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