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Breaking News in the Industry: February 26, 2018

Man stole $250,000 in jewelry from San Francisco department store

Police have arrested a man accused of stealing nearly $250,000 worth of jewelry from a department store in San Francisco. Toby Kessler is accused of robbing the same jewelry store three different times this year. Police have not said which store was targeted, only that it was in the Stonestown Mall.
 Employees called the police, and they were able to track Kessler down. On January 23rd and February 11th of this year, San Francisco police officers responded to a department store in the Stonestown Mall located in the Taraval Police district regarding burglaries that occurred after hours. The loss in these incidents were $3,000 in cash and over $80,000 in fine jewelry. The department store surveillance cameras captured the suspect as he committed the crimes. On February 16, 2018 at approximately 10:00 pm, the suspect committed a third burglary at the same store. Employees were present in the store and immediately contacted the police. Police responded to the scene and set up a perimeter. Officers captured the suspect as he was attempting to flee the building and recovered over $150,000 worth of fine jewelry that the suspect had just stolen from the store. Further investigation by the San Francisco Police Department’s Burglary Detail linked the suspect to the earlier burglaries. The suspect was charged for all three burglary cases.
Toby Kessler, a 32 year old, transient, was booked into San Francisco County Jail on charges of burglary, grand theft, possession of burglary tools and possession of stolen property. While an arrest has been made, this remains an open and active investigation. Anyone with information is asked to contact the SFPD Tip Line at (415) 575-4444 or text a Tip to TIP411 and begin the text message with SFPD. You may remain anonymous. [Source: KRON 4 News]

Credit card scammers were part of theft ring making $100,000 a month in Florida

Last year, Franklin County credit card holders unwittingly funded a stolen-fuel ring in Florida that has been making about $100,000 a month in fraudulent transactions over the last year-and-a-half. Last week in Miami, Florida State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle announced that arrest warrants had been executed against 11 men for their roles in that operation. She described the method in which they skimmed credit card numbers from Franklin County and other areas around the country. Those numbers were then placed on false gift and credit cards to purchase fuel which was then sold back to gas stations. The men involved converted a variety of vehicles to hide stolen extra fuel, including a bus in which the seats had been removed to accommodate large fuel bladders. This practice made the daily commute of Floridians “more dangers than you ever thought,” said Rundle at a Feb. 13 news conference aired on ABC’s Local News 10. She called the vehicles “fire bombs” on wheels. To date, six men have been arrested in connection with the Florida ring and are being held on $1 million or more bonds. Three of the men indicted in Florida were in Preston in April 2017, when local residents began reporting fraudulent withdrawals and purchased from their bank accounts.

Adryan Hernandez Morera, Alberto Morera Hernanedez, and Yoelvis Pineiro Migoyo, were contacted by Preston Police Officer Chad Dunn and Franklin County Sheriff’s Deputy Travis Despain on April 12, 2017, while they were making withdrawals at US bank. These same individuals showed up on security cameras installed to cover the US Bank ATM. Footage from the security cameras clearly identified the men making withdrawals that matched fraudulent withdrawals from the accounts of local residents. According to Preston police reports, by the end of May 2017, Preston Police Officer Scott Royer had totaled 74 reported victims (58 in April and 17 in May) having lost a total of $91,143.72. Included in that amount was several thousands of dollars charged on Franklin County employee gas cards, which were caught by the Exxon Oil Company that issued the cards. On May 1, 2017, a Florida state attorney and a Miami-Dade Police Department officer informed the Preston Police Department that it was conducting a large investigation into Migoyo, Adryan Hernandez, and Alberto Hernandez, and asked that the warrants filed on them by the PPD be dropped in order to help their investigation. The three men have been charged with multiple counts, including racketeering, conspiring to racketeer, scheme to defraud, obtaining fuel fraudulently, forgery of a credit card, and fraudulent use of a credit card.  Adryan Hernandez one of the ring leaders is currently facing a bond set at $3,25,000. Another ring member, Jorge Guerra Victoria, faces a $1.55 million bond. [Source: The Preston Citizen]

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Pair charged in 7 county crime spree; 5 robberies, 5 thefts at retailer, 40 felonies

Two men have been charged with a series of robberies and thefts from Walmart stores in seven counties, authorities said. Jon Beverly, 28, of Philadelphia, and Maurkeece Foreman, 26, of Pottstown, are charged in connection with five robberies and five retail thefts between July 23 and Jan. 7 at stores in Montgomery, Bucks, Carbon, Luzerne, Cumberland, Dauphin and Lancaster counties. The pair took more than $52,000 worth of merchandise during the crime spree, officials said. The two men are charged with 40 felony offenses including robbery, conspiracy, retail theft and theft. Foreman was captured Jan. 7 by Pottstown police after he pulled a gun on a employee at the Walmart on Shoemaker Road in Pottstown and demanded all 20 iPhones on display, officials said. The iPhones were valued at $6,383. After Foreman was arrested and charged in that robbery, police continued their investigation and on Jan. 25 Beverly was arrested in Philadelphia on a probation violation. Both men are being held on $250,000 bail in Montgomery County Correctional Facility. [Source: The Morning Call]

Shoplifting suspects stuff clothes between legs before waddling out of store [Viral Video]

Police in Natick, Mass., said they are seeking two women on suspicion of shoplifting after a store’s CCTV caught them using a “lingerie leg hammock” to steal clothes. Video posted on the Natick Police Department Facebook page shows the women placing several items into a large bag between one of the suspect’s legs, which was concealed with a long skirt.  [Source: The Kansas City Star]

17 arrested at retailer in PD’s latest ‘retail blitz’

A couple, Anchorage police say, tried to leave a discount store with a stolen nail gun and a man who allegedly tried to drive off in a stolen car were among more than a dozen people arrested last week, in APD’s most recent one-day “retail blitz” to deter shoplifting. A total of 17 people were taken into custody during the Wednesday operation at the Walmart store, police spokesman MJ Thim said in a Friday statement. Store loss prevention worked with undercover members of APD’s Investigative Support Unit (ISU) and Community Action Policing Team (CAPT) to pick up suspects in “various crimes including theft and drugs.” Wednesday’s arrests follow a model from outside law enforcement first employed by APD in December to make half a dozen arrests at the Abbott Road Fred Meyer. Officers characterized the sweep as an attempt to combat increasing levels of shoplifting, as well as greater violence employed by shoplifters. Alaska State Troopers used similar tactics to arrest nine people at the Wasilla Fred Meyer on Jan. 26, including seven adults and two juveniles all charged with theft. [Source: KTVA News]

Toys R Us could close more stores or liquidate

Last year Toys R Us faced arguably the most important holiday season of its life. The holidays are perennially a crucial time for the retailer, accounting for nearly half its revenue, but with its ill-timed bankruptcy just ahead of the season the company needed the cash more than ever.  And it needed the affirmation that it had a viable future as the last remaining national toy seller. It needed a win, in other words. But, by several accounts, its sales fell dramatically during the quarter. Now, after already announcing 180 stores were slated to shutter, the company could close another 200, according to a Wednesday Wall Street Journal report. Taken with the announced store liquidations, the closures could represent nearly 45% of Toys R Us’ domestic footprint. The Journal also reported that Toys R Us could lay off a “significant portion” of its corporate staff. While Toys R Us did not confirm the report, the company has left open the possibility of closing more stores than the initially announced 180 units by a unique agreement with its landlords. Analysts Retail Dive spoke with said more closures were entirely possible, if not expected, and current and former employees have told Retail Dive that they expected more closures as well.

More ominously, CNBC reported that the company was at risk of breaching a covenant on its bankruptcy loan…. a crucial piece of financing aimed at keeping the retailer in business as it reorganizes and restructures in the Chapter 11 process. A breach could raise the possibility that Toys R Us will be forced out of business entirely. Toys R Us is “currently in compliance” with its loan terms and could find financing elsewhere to meet cash requirements or renegotiate the terms to meet the loan’s covenants, according to CNBC. If it can’t and breaches the loan terms, the retailer’s lenders could demand immediate payment, which “could in turn force the retailer into liquidation,” CNBC reported. Toys R Us did not immediately respond to a request for comment on this story. A spokesperson told USA Today that “[w]e have not breached any covenants” and that the CNBC story contained much “speculation.” But even without the specter of forced liquidation, Toys R Us faces an ongoing, yet mounting, challenge. After years of underinvestment, the toy retailer has a long way to go to close the gap with rivals and successfully reposition itself. The misfires over the holidays are one more sign that the retailer still doesn’t have the ability or wherewithal to fix its retail problems.. [Source: RetailDIVE]

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