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Breaking News in the Industry: February 27, 2019

Turlock police in California are seeking four women who committed a grab-and-dash theft at the Ulta Beauty store in the Monte Vista Crossings shopping center. The theft occurred about 1 p.m., Turlock Police Department spokesman Sgt. Russell Holeman said. The four women filled large, fabric shopping bags with perfume, he said, then ran out the door.

They fled the scene in a silver, four-door Toyota Camry, Holeman said. Investigators have seen video shot on a phone by a shopper, he said, and will be looking at images taken by the store’s interior surveillance cameras. The woman who posted the video on Facebook wrote, “I was just at Ulta when this happened. It took me a few seconds to figure out it wasn’t a shopping spree they’d won.”

Anyone with information on the theft is urged to call Turlock police at 209.668.5550, ext. 6111, or Stanislaus Area Crime Stoppers at 209.521.4636. Callers can remain anonymous and may be eligible for a cash reward. (The video is hosted by the source website).   [Source: The Modesto Bee]

No charges brought against security guard

This is an update to the story featured in Tuesday’s LPM Insider: The suspected shoplifter had finished gathering items into her bag and was about to depart the busy 99 Cents Only Store in Van Nuys, California, when she discovered the exit was blocked… by the security guard. As she attempted to walk around him, he stepped to the side and stayed in front of her, security camera video shows.  Likewise, when she tried to go around the other way, he stepped in front. It remains a sensitive issue for retailers: How far should security go to prevent shoplifting?

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In the doorway of the Van Nuys 99 Cents Only Store Thursday, the guard decided to reach around and try to take the woman’s bag. The pair tussled for a few seconds, but she kept her grip on the bag. It was at that point that the guard was heard referring to the woman with a curse word, according to a witness Rony Preza, who had begun recording with his cellphone camera as the tension level escalated.

The woman could be seen taking items out of her bag and throwing them toward the guard. He approached her, with his arm extended and holding what appeared to police to be a pepper spray device. The woman reacted, swinging her arm and striking the guard in the face, according to Det. Peter Barba of Los Angeles Police Van Nuys Division. The guard proceeded to punch her, a display of suglasses toppled over, and after she moved deeper into the store, he approached her and threw a second punch before he returned back to the front door. Moments later, without her bag, she left, but did not go far, as arriving police officers took her into custody. She was identified as Sonjia Broussard.

Monday, the Los Angeles City Attorney’s office filed a misdemeanor complaint charging Broussard with theft and battery against the guard. She was due to be arraigned Monday afternoon. Authorities considered whether to file a charge against the guard. “He used more force than I would have expected,” said Barba. Ultimately, authorities concluded the guard was reacting to being hit in the face when he struck the woman, and the guard was not charged. “It appeared the guard would benefit from further training in how to deal with such situations,” Barba said.   [Source: NBC4 Los Angeles]

Three arrested for robbery in retailer’s parking lot

Three individuals in West Virginia, have been arrested for their alleged involvement in a robbery that occurred Sunday in the parking lot of the Martinsburg Target, according to Berkeley County Magistrate Court records. Bryan Lynn Fishack, 33, of Smithsburg, Maryland; Richard William Kline, 29, and Lindsey Nicole Dion, 19, both of Dillweed Drive, Falling Waters, were arraigned Sunday in Magistrate Court on the felony charges of robbery and conspiracy. Deputies with the Berkeley County Sheriff’s Office were dispatched to Retail Commons Parkway for the alleged robbery, court records said.

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The female victim told police that after putting her children in her vehicle, she saw two males walking toward her, according to Deputy R.M. Kolb in a criminal complaint filed in Magistrate Court. A male in a gray jacket, later identified as Fishack, allegedly attempted to grab the victim from behind while attempting to get in the car, court records said. He is also alleged to have hit the victim multiple times while trying to steal her purse, records said. The male wearing the dark-colored jacket, later identified as Kline, was also allegedly trying to free the victim’s purse from her arm, police said.

A silver vehicle, records said, began following the suspects to their vehicle, which was parked in a nearby parking lot. The vehicle followed until law enforcement was able to stop the suspect vehicle. During the traffic stop, deputies located the victim’s wallet by the front passenger tire of the vehicle, records said. Members of the West Virginia State Police who assisted allegedly located the victim’s knife while conducting a search of the subjects.

The suspects also took the victim’s cellphone, which was tracked through an application to in between the 12 and 13 mile-marker of Interstate 81 North, according to the complaint. The victim complained of head pain, Kolb said in the complaint. He said he also observed swelling and a red mark on top of her head. Fishack allegedly gave police permission to search his vehicle and located the victim’s checkbooks and identification holder, according to court records.   [Source: The Journal]

‘Greeters’ out, ‘Customer Hosts’ in;  Workers with disabilities feel targeted

If you ask John Combs what his biggest worry is, he’ll say: “How will I feed Red?” Red is actually white. He’s a labradoodle  rescue,  just tall enough for Combs to pet if he reaches over the armrest of his wheelchair. Combs, 42, has cerebral palsy. He has difficulty speaking. But he has no difficulty saying the line most Americans have heard at least once: “Welcome to Walmart!” Combs has one of Walmart’s trademark front-door jobs: He’s a “people greeter” at a store in Vancouver, Washington. But, he was told, come April 25 his job is going away. And he is not alone. According to Walmart, greeters are being removed at about 1,000 stores around the country.

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NPR has found that Walmart is changing the job requirements for front-door greeters in a way that appears to disproportionately affect workers with disabilities. Greeters with disabilities in five states told NPR they expect to lose their jobs after April 25 or 26. Walmart is the largest private employer in the U.S. and has a large workforce of workers with disabilities. And the job of greeter has been a particularly attractive fit, as it isn’t physically strenuous and is easy to learn.

But Walmart has been eliminating greeters and replacing them with “customer hosts,” who have expanded responsibilities, such as taking care of security or assisting shoppers. The change is going into effect at the end of April. It is the latest wave in a policy that Walmart started in 2016. It has already affected about 1,000 stores.

According to interviews with workers and documents reviewed by NPR, to qualify for these new host positions, workers must be able to lift 25 pounds, clean up spills, collect carts and stand for long periods of time, among other things… tasks that can be impossible for people with disabilities. Workers say they’ve been told they must be able to climb a ladder to qualify for some of the other jobs at the store.   [Source: NPR]

Suspect shoplifted twice… in the same store

A Middletown, Ohio, woman got away after she allegedly shoplifted from a local store earlier this month.But she was arrested after she allegedly shoplifted from the same store a few hours later on February 11, according to police. Robyn Heyne, 32, was found walking along the street and when police searched her purse, they found one item she allegedly stole from CVS, 244 N. Verity Parkway. Heyne told police she sold the other stolen items, the report read. The store’s owner told police a woman matching Heyne’s description stole $80 worth of hair products, left the store, then returned to the store and stole again.

She was charged with petty theft and criminal trespass since she was trespassed from CVS in November 2018. She had a warrant for theft through the Franklin Police Department so Franklin officers picked her up.   [Source: Dayton Daily News]

Increased police presence drops mall shoplifting cases

The Outlet Shoppes of the Bluegrass [in Kentucky is an easy target for thieves to snatch high-end items and make a quick getaway. But police have a new plan to stop shoplifters, and it’s working. Simpsonville Police Officer Daniel Wills said the department used to get called to the outlet two to three times a day.”I think a lot of it is where we have prosecuted people in Shelby County, and they see they get a large fine and possible jail time,” Wills said.

Big shoplifting cases made headlines in 2017. People were accused of stealing $3,000 worth of Tommy Hilfiger merchandise and $4,000 worth from Polo. In 2016, police recovered $15,000 in Kate Spade purses allegedly stolen from the outlet mall. “It seems like Tommy Hilfiger, Calvin Klein, True Religion… those are the ones we go to on a regular basis when we’re here,” Wills said.

But Police Chief Chip Minnis said he no longer sees the big shoplifting cases. “You have better-trained folks at the mall,” he said. “The stores are having their own people be a little more attentive. The mall security, they’re more visible and out and about.”  e said some juveniles got in trouble for stealing a shirt the other day. But others have their eyes on different merchandise, mostly clothing,” Wills said. “We do have purses taken from some of the purse shops, which is high-dollar. One purse costs $300-$400 apiece. We’re always on duty 24-7, and that’s activity for us,” Wills said. “We’re more than willing to come out here and take care of our job and do what we need to do.” Police say all shoplifters caught will be charged.   [Source:]

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