Breaking News in the Industry: February 22, 2018

Bond set at $10K for woman that called in high school gun threat to divert police from shoplifting case

A 21-year-old Wisconsin woman who called in a gun threat at Lincoln High School in Wisconsin Rapids Tuesday morning has been identified as Autumn Trepish. Police said she was attempting to divert police away from a shoplifting complaint at Walmart. The Wisconsin Rapids Police Department was in the process of investigating the complaint when the call came in. Two suspects were detained by the store’s loss prevention team while two more suspects, including Trepish, were waiting in the parking lot. Police said Trepish called 911 and reported that a man armed with a gun was walking around Lincoln High School. Officers treated the response as an active shooter situation and the school went on lockdown. A sweep of the school was immediately conducted and nothing was found. Lt. Joel Flewellen said the allegations against Trepish are serious. “We had approximately 15-20 officers arrive and it makes it unsafe for the public a lot of times.

It was icy yesterday and the response we have to get there in a quick way, so we’re going lights and siren,” he explained. School was already cancelled due to inclement weather. There were no students inside the building, but some staff was present. The lockdown was lifted and staff were able to return to their duties around 9:40 a.m.Superintendent Craig Broeren says anytime there is a school threat it’s concerning. “It certainly did heighten fears, but it’s been on my mind on other school superintendents minds and school employees for the last several years as a result of the trends we’re seeing in society,” Broeren said. Trepish remains in the Wood County Jail on $10,000 cash bond. At no time was the suspect ever at or near Lincoln High School and none of the shoplifting suspects attend any school in Wisconsin Rapids. Lincoln High School Principal Ronald Rasmussen sent a letter to parents informing them that security will be increased when students return to class on Wednesday. Extra uniformed officers are assigned to patrol school grounds. Rasmussen said it is clear that Tuesday’s threat was not credible, but the school district and police do not take the incident lightly.  [Source: WSAW7 News]

Police evidence tech fired after stealing oxycodone, which affected at least 138 cases

A Billings Police Department employee in Montana was fired earlier this month after stealing prescription painkillers from the evidence locker, police said Tuesday. The revelation throws into question hundreds of police cases and dozens of prosecutors’ cases, and prompts a major review of the department’s procedures. It is the second time in roughly three years drug cases have been affected by BPD evidence technicians stealing drugs. A second employee was fired in 2014, and later charged, after stealing drugs from the police evidence locker.  Rawlyn Strizich, 38, was fired Feb. 6 after reporting her drug thefts to her supervisor at the evidence locker, Police Chief Rich St. John said during a press conference Tuesday. Strizich was fired the day the audit was completed.  St. John called the press conference after The Billings Gazette requested information on reported evidence thefts earlier in the day.  Strizich told her supervisor Jan. 20 that she had been stealing oxycodone and other opioids. The confession came just a few days before an audit of the evidence locker was set to start.  The audit shows the drug thefts began appearing around July 2017, but the case is still under investigation. Opioids were missing from cases dating back to 2007, as well as cases opened as recently as 2017.  Once the BPD’s investigation is complete, it will forward the case to the county attorney’s office for possible charges. About $300 in cash was also missing, along with other types of drugs, the preliminary audit found, but no connection has yet been made between those items and Strizich, St. John said.  [Source: Billings Gazette]

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Man charged with cutting LP associate

Prosecutors charged a Cashton, Wisconsin, man Tuesday with cutting a loss prevention associate at Menards in La Crosse with a knife. The store’s assistant manager told police Joshua Clark cut the associate with a pocket knife during a struggle inside the loss prevention office after they caught him stealing a multi-tool on Wednesday, according to the complaint filed in La Crosse County Circuit Court. The manager fled the room when Clark threatened to have a gun and held the door shut while Clark and the guards were inside, the complaint stated. Clark slipped out the door when a La Crosse police officer opened it to let the loss prevention associates escape. He fought arrest before police found two knives in his pockets and a third on the floor of the loss prevention room. The LP associate was treated with stitches to his hand. Clark, 30, is charged with second-degree recklessly endangering safety and substantial battery, both with use of a dangerous weapon, retail theft and carrying a concealed knife, all as a repeat offender.  [Source: Centre Daily Times]

Police need help identifying shoplifters caught on camera [Viral Video]

Albany police need your help identifying suspects in shoplifting cases at Target.  In a case from February 10, a man was able to sneak over $1,500 worth of Fitbit watches out of the store. He left in an older model Ford Crown Victoria. In a case from February 12, a different man was caught on camera taking a pair of headphones from the store by taking them out of the package and putting them in his jacket. He was able fight off loss prevention officers and left in a red Ford Escape. If you have any information on the men pictured in the videos, you are asked to contact Albany police at (229)431-2100 or Albany CrimeStoppers at (229)436-TIPS..  [Source: WFXL Fox31 News]

Man convicted of shoplifting had kids help

A Southwest Virginia man has pleaded guilty to shoplifting hundreds of dollars in merchandise from a local Walmart and police said he was assisted in the crimes by his children. Joseph Michael Mullins, 39, of Norton, has appeared in Wise County Circuit Court and will be sentenced later this year on four counts of felony shoplifting, six counts of misdemeanor shoplifting and eight counts of contributing to the delinquency of a minor, according to court information. Mullins would purchase items at the Norton Walmart and then place the bags in the shopping cart while his two kids would help him fill those bags with un-purchased items ranging from food to power tools. Commonwealth’s Attorney Chuck Slemp said over a three-month period the trio stole more than $800 in merchandise. Mullins has another court date scheduled for May 3.  [Source: St George News]

Woman accused of shoplifting threatens to stab LP associate with dirty needle

A Massachusetts woman accused of shoplifting $27 worth of items threatened to stab a loss prevention associate with a dirty hypodermic needle after he confronted her. Police are now trying to identify the woman who was caught on surveillance cameras during the crime, said Michael Wilk, police public information officer. The shoplifting happened at about 4 p.m., Feb. 14, at the Stop & Shop on 672 Memorial Drive. A loss prevention officer saw her and followed her out of the store, Wilk said. When he confronted her, she put her hands in her pocket and told him she would “stab him with her dirty needle.  The officer believed she was telling the truth and backed away and the woman fled in a grey GMC Sierra. She is described as thin, with dark hair, sores on her face and a tattoo on the back of her neck, he said. The loss prevention associate said she is “well-known” to other businesses, he said. Anyone with information about the crime or who can identify the woman is asked to call police at 413-594-1704 or send a private message to the department’s Facebook Page. “Twenty-seven dollars is not a lot of merchandise and if she had complied with the store detective, this would not really be an issue,” Wilk said.  [Source: MASSlive]

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