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Breaking News in the Industry: February 28, 2019

Arrests made in $2,000 electronics theft escapade

A quick-thinking asset protection team member and Broward Sheriff’s deputies were able to make two arrests within an hour of a theft at a Target store in Deerfield Beach, Florida, officials said yesterday. Surveillance video showed Jasmine Angelika McCartney, 25, of Pompano Beach, bypassing the checkout line and walking out the front door with a shopping cart overflowing with more than $2,000 worth of computer equipment and flat screen TVs, according to the Broward Sheriff’s Office. She left in such a hurry that she did not stop to pick up one of two TVs that fell from her cart, the video showed.

It happened about 8 a.m. Tuesday, in the Target store at 1200 S. Federal Hwy. Once outside, McCartney is seen on video loading the merchandise into a waiting gray Nissan before driving away. The store’s AP member recognized McCartney as a repeat offender who had been in the store before, so the Broward Sheriff’s Office was called in.

About 40 minutes later, deputies found a gray Nissan, with a stolen license plate, parked in the 700 block of Northwest Fifth Avenue in Pompano Beach. When deputies approached the car, McCartney sped away. McCartney drove to a house in the 400 block of Northwest 10th Avenue and was arrested there. Meanwhile, Tiffany Shanique Sharpe, 26, who investigators say was a passenger in the Nissan, got out and attempted to run away, but deputies caught her a short time later.

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The stolen merchandise and illegal drugs were found inside the house where McCartney was arrested, according to the sheriff’s office. She is facing 13 charges including grand theft, fleeing law enforcement and drug possession, and two unrelated robbery charges. During a court appearance Wednesday, McCartney’s bond was set at $17,850. Sharpe’s charges included trespassing and resisting an officer. Her bond was $1,500, records showed.   [Source: SunSentinel]

Employee arrested for plot in theft of smartphones, tablets

Connecticut State Police said they have arrested a West Haven man who they say created fraudulent customer accounts to obtain smartphones and tablets in order to sell them to third parties. Jose Luis Lopez, 32,  was charged with First Degree Larceny  yesterday. Police said AT&T Asset Protection reported the result of a larceny investigation in July, 2018.

Police said while Lopez was employed by AT&T, he created fraudulent customer accounts in order to obtain numerous promotional smartphone and tablets which he then sold to third parties. Lopez turned himself in to police. He was released on $75,000 bond. He is scheduled to appear in New Britain court on March 15. Police said more charges will be filed in the case.   [Source: Fox61 News]

Retailers adopting more partnerships with Venmo

Venmo is evolving beyond a tool to pay friends for beer or rent. Retail brands are adding Venmo as a checkout method to attract younger customers. A Venmo payment button on merchants’ online stores has been available wherever PayPal is accepted for more than a year, and Venmo debit cards can be accepted at checkout counters of participating retailers.

For PayPal, it’s a strategy to monetize Venmo, whose peer-to-peer payments capabilities aren’t a money maker. Over the past year, PayPal has increased its emphasis on driving profitability for Venmo, in part through retailer transactions. According to PayPal, more than two million merchants support payments from Venmo, and recent additions include Uber, Hulu, Grubhub, Shopify and Williams Sonoma. Twenty-nine percent of Venmo users made a “monetizable transaction” in the fourth quarter of 2018, PayPal CEO Dan Schulman said on a fourth-quarter earnings call in January. “Monetizable transactions” are counted by PayPal as revenue from instant transfers, as well as retail partnerships.

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Retail brands, meanwhile, want to make online checkouts as easy as possible, and Venmo’s popularity among younger customers make it a shoo-in. Direct-to-consumer home goods and grocery retailer Boxed has had Venmo payments available for nearly a year. It’s partnered with Venmo on paid and organic social media marketing campaigns on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. Venmo is about being where target customers, particularly younger ones, are, said Seiya Vogt, VP of growth at Boxed, though it’s too early to tell if it has staying power. “We’re trying to find the best and most seamless way for customers to have a good experience on our site, it depends on what technology they’re using on a day-to-day basis, but more people are using Venmo [on Boxed],” said Vogt. “It seemed like a really good fit; as we see more people using it for daily transactions, there will be more emphasis on Venmo.” Boxed also lets customers pay with Apple Pay and Google Pay.

For bedding brand Brooklinen, Venmo was added because customers asked for it. “We want to make things as easy as possible for the customers and Venmo was an obvious choice for us,” Brooklinen CEO Rich Fulop said. For retailers, being able to tie Venmo payments to the platform’s social feed has the potential to grow brand recognition among customers, their friends and family through organic content and paid ads. Neither Brooklinen nor Boxed does this, but they say they’re open to possibilities, depending on how quickly Venmo as a shopping payment method catches on.   [Source: DigiDay]

Suspect arrested for $1,800 lingerie theft

An area man wanted for stealing nearly $2,000 in merchandise at Victoria’s Secret at the Connecticut Post Mall has been taken into police custody in Milford. Investigators at the Milford Police Department announced that they have arrested New Haven Resident Stephen Blackshear, 28, who was wanted on an active arrest warrant for stealing from the mall.

According to police, Blackshear allegedly shoplifted more than $1,800 from Victoria’s Secret and left the store without paying. Blackshear was arrested and charged with larceny and conspiracy to commit larceny. Following his arraignment, Blackshear was released and is scheduled to appear in court on March 19 to answer the charges.   [Source: Daily Voice]

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Employee arrested in a guest room theft scheme

Police have identified a suspect connected to a series of thefts at a hotel in Mobile, Alabama. The crimes were reported at the Marriott on Airport Boulevard. Police said hotel employee Tyler Weaver, 29, is responsible for stealing items from the rooms of guests. Investigators said they found several of the items stolen at the Marriott in Weaver’s possession, including a necklace that belonged to Jo Ann Mertins, a guest from Texas who stayed at the hotel.

Detectives said Weaver was arrested Saturday in Baldwin County on separate drug and theft charges. He’s seen a lot of time behind bars in Baldwin County Jail in Bay Minette. According to jail records, that was his 8th time being arrested since 2014 in Baldwin County. Weaver remains in the Baldwin County Jail. Meanwhile, the Mertins ,who said they were offered complimentary drinks for their trouble while in the city, told FOX 10, the Marriott has since refunded them for their hotel room. MPD said the Mobile Marriott has been fully cooperating with them in the investigation.   [Source: Fox10 News]

New survey: Who are the ‘most satisfying’ retailers in Internet retail?

Move over, Amazon. A new competitor appears to be swiftly becoming the most satisfying name in Internet retail: Costco. That’s according to the American Customer Satisfaction Index ACSI), which interviews 300,000 customers annually about more than 400 companies in 46 industries to measure customer satisfaction for the quality of products and services. Costco notched an ACSI score of 83 this year in the first time it’s been scored in the Internet retail category on the report. It received the same rating for the in-store department/discount and supermarket categories. Meanwhile, Amazon scored 82, dipping three points from the previous year.

Amazon had been the top leader on the index since 2010. However, the report says “its retail business growth has slowed with the acquisition of Whole Foods,” which Amazon purchased for $13.7 billion in 2017. Overall, 21 new companies made their debuts in the Internet retail category. Among these new companies, the best-performing ones after Costco were Etsy, Kohl’s, Nike, and Nordstrom, which each had an ACSI score of 81. However, not all new companies in this section performed well: Sears and Walmart bottomed out the list with scores of 73 and 74, respectively. According to the report, of all the vehicles for online shopping, mobile apps are highly favorable among customers… scoring an 86 for quality and an 85 for reliability. While the ease of a desktop checkout and payment process is at an 85, that is down two points from last year, when it was at an 87.   [Source: USA Today]

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