Breaking News in the Industry: February 25, 2019

Prolific shoplifter caught for her ninth time

A Pennsylvania woman is facing shoplifting charges after Ridgway State Police investigated several retail thefts that occurred at the Saint Marys Walmart. Hope Senior, 43, is accused of entering the store located on the Million Dollar Highway in Fox Township approximately nine times between December 2nd, 2018, and January 5th of this year and stealing multiple items through the self checkout register.

This includes three times she allegedly stole items from Walmart on January 5th alone. The total value of all merchandise stolen is $1455.53 and charges are pending in the district court.   [Source: Connect 96.7]

Suspect arrested after multiple thefts and a bi-state pursuit

A 27-year-old man is facing charges for a string of thefts from retail stores in Fairview Heights, Illinois, police say. Jermaine R. Wesley is facing six counts of retail theft and two counts of resisting a police officer. Police said these charges stem from Wesley stealing from a Kohl’s location on multiple occasions starting in November. Wesley visited the store three separate times with other men where they selected hundreds of dollars worth of merchandise before running to a vehicle and taking off to Missouri, evading the police when they tried to stop the group.

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During the investigation, police identified Wesley as a suspect in thefts not only at the Kohl’s, but also at TJ Maxx and other Kohl’s stores in the St. Louis area. Police said he was also wanted by the St. Clair County Sheriff for a probation violation warrant. Officers apprehended Wesley Tuesday after responding to the Burlington store in Fairview Heights for a theft.

When the officers arrived, store employees told them two men had entered the store and stole merchandise but had since left the store. While officers were investigating, a witness reported seeing the suspects at a store near the Burlington store. Officers responded to the other store and attempted to take Wesley into custody. Police said Wesley attempted to run from the officers and was tackled to the ground where he was wrestled into handcuffs. The second suspect escaped via a getaway vehicle. Officers from several jurisdictions attempted to stop the vehicle on I-64 but the vehicle kept going into St. Louis. Wesley is currently held at the St. Clair County Jail with a $75,000 bond and the probation warrant, which has a $40,000 bond.   [Source: KMOV4 News]

Retail store closings just doubled to more than 4,000

The staggering rate of store closures that has rocked the retail industry over the last couple years is expected to continue in 2019, with roughly the same level of closures expected this year. Retailers closed a record-breaking 102 million square feet of store space in 2017, then smashed that record in 2018 by closing another 155 million square feet of space, according to estimates by the commercial real estate firm CoStar Group.

“This year we are predicting more of the same in the retail space,” said Drew Myers, a CoStar senior consultant. Retailers have announced more than 4,000 store closures so far this year, according to an analysis by Business Insider. This list is expected to grow in the coming months. Payless, Gymboree, Shopko, Performance Bicycle, and Charlotte Russe are responsible for the bulk of the expected closures announced to date. All four companies have filed for bankruptcy and announced full or partial liquidations.   [Source: SF Gate]

ORC ring hitting makeup stores

Police have released video of suspected members of an organized retail crime (ORC) ring that has targeted high-end makeup stores in the Los Angeles area. An investigation was launched in January by the Los Angeles Police Department’s Commercial Crimes Division, Burglary Special Section.”The suspects enter the businesses with empty purses or shopping bags,” according to a police statement. “The suspects conceal high dollar fragrances in the empty bags and leave the store without paying for the merchandise. In some incidents, the suspects were confronted by employees who attempted to retrieve the merchandise and were overpowered by the suspects.” Losses have been in the thousands of dollars, according to the LAPD, which reported that the suspects have struck stores at the Beverly Center and in Studio City, Marina Del Rey, Tustin and Glendale.

Depicted in surveillance video are three woman and a man. All of the suspects are black and have black hair and brown eyes. The man is about 25-to-30 years old, 6-feet-4 inches tall and weighs around 230 pounds. One of the women is 25-30, 5-feet-4 inches and 130 pounds; another is also 25-30, 5-feet-5 inches and 175 pounds and had red streaks in her hair; and the third woman is 5-feet-3 inches, 125 pounds and is estimated to be between 18 and 20 years old. Anyone with information about the suspects was urged to call 213.486.6940 to speak with Detective Prieto. After-hours or on weekends, calls should be directed to 877.LAPD.24.7.   [Source: NBC4 Los Angeles]

Robber gets 4 to 15 years in plea agreement

A Vermont woman with a long criminal history will serve 4 to 15 years in prison after pleading guilty to an armed robbery and attempted armed robbery of two Rutland convenience stores over a 2-day period in January 2017. Mandy M. Conte, 34, of Rutland, pleaded guilty in Rutland criminal court in July to a felony charge of assault and robbery, a felony charge of attempted assault and robbery with a weapon, and a misdemeanor charge of violating her conditions of release from custody.

On Friday, Judge Thomas Zonay sentenced Conte to serve two to 7.5 years on each of the felony charges. Those sentences are to be served back to back. She was sentenced to serve up to a day for the misdemeanor, but that will be served concurrently with the longer sentences. Attorney Steven Howard, who represents Conte, asked if she could report to the jail on Monday so she could visit with her daughter over the weekend, but Zonay denied the request. Under the plea agreement Conte entered in July, the state agreed not to ask for more than 10 to 15 years in prison, which was the length of the sentence requested by Rutland County Deputy State’s Attorney Ian Sullivan.   [Source: Rutland Herald]

Employees attacked; bitten and maced

Around 2:30 a.m., at a Philadelphia Wawa store,  police say two men and two women went into the store and began stealing chips and drinks and ransacking the place. When the employees tried to stop them, police say they were attacked. “One comes in with a golf club swinging it at the clerks. By that time they lost track of time and the police pull up on location while they’re still getting into the car,” said police. A 21-year-old male employee was bitten and scratched in the face, a 25-year-old man was maced and a 20-year-old female suffered a cut to the lip.

The four robbers ran out of the store only to be met by police just as they were hopping into a maroon car. They were each arrested.A Mountain Dew bottle, a Snapple, and a basket of chips could be seen still inside the vehicle as it remained in the parking lot hours after the arrest. The employees were taken to Nazareth Hospital and are expected to be OK. Police say if things had not escalated between the suspects and the employees, the four suspects would have faced retail theft charges. But now they are facing a felony assault and robbery charges, which are much more serious crimes.   [Source: ABC6 Action News]

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