Breaking News in the Industry: January 17, 2019

commercial burglary

Trio steals iPhones valued at $41,000

Two Philadelphia men are accused of stealing nearly $41,000 worth of cellphones last month from the Walmart store in Frazer, and they are suspected in similar thefts in at least two other states. “This is the biggest theft we’ve ever had at that Walmart by far. It is the largest singular incident of retail theft that we’ve ever had in Frazer,” said township police Chief Terry Kuhns.

James J. Jordan, 42, and Jahmir Andre Mitchell, 19, face felony charges of participating in a corrupt organization, receiving stolen property and retail theft and a misdemeanor conspiracy charge. They remain at large. As of Tuesday afternoon, police had not filed charges against a third man believed to have been involved in the alleged heist. Court paperwork outlining the charges against Jordan and Mitchell say police responded to Walmart early December 18

Three men ran out of the store before police arrived, and one had a suitcase full of merchandise, the complaint said. A search of the area came up empty. Police said surveillance footage showed the men going to the electronics section after entering the store around 2:30 a.m. They waited for an employee to walk away and then dragged two suitcases over to an iPhone display case, pried the case open and filled the suitcases with merchandise. They ran when an employee confronted them and left the store in two vehicles, one of which was insured by Mitchell, the complaint said.   [Source: Trib Live]

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Employee accused of shopping with customers’ credit cards

A North Carolina department store employee is accused of padding the credit card bills of customers with her own stuff. Kaliesha Hightower turned herself in on Monday to Onslow County deputies. The Belk customer service representative was charged with four counts of obtaining property by false pretense, four counts of identity theft, and four counts of using an illicit card.

Deputies say back on New Year’s Eve they responded to a call center on Richlands Highway where several customers had fraudulent charges on their credit cards. Their investigation shows that while working for Belk, Hightower was ordering items for herself on customer’s credit cards. The 28-year-old Jacksonville woman was jailed on an $80,000 secured bond. Anyone who believes they may also be a victim in this case should call the Onslow County Sheriff’s Office at 910.455.3113.   [Source: WITN News]

Luxury merchandise now confirmed by AI robots

The second season of Donald Glover’s Atlanta featured a memorable middle-school flashback episode revolving around a possibly fake Fubu shirt. Now, Goodwill is enlisting artificial intelligence to try to make sure that every luxury item sold in its online stores is authentic. Goodwill is implementing Entrupy’s artificial intelligence-based solution to guarantee the authenticity of luxury accessories sold through the nonprofit’s auction site, shopgoodwill.com. Entrupy’s program uses machine learning algorithms and computer-vision technology to verify items with a 99.1% accuracy rate.

According to a press release, the company’s ever-growing database includes millions of data points from real and fake goods for 100 years of styles from brands including Balenciaga, Bottega Veneta, Burberry, Celine, Chanel, Chloe, Coach, Dior, Fendi, Goyard, Gucci, Hermès, Louis Vuitton, Prada, and YSL/Saint Laurent. They hope to add more product categories for authentication in Q1 2019. When they see a luxury item of questionable origin–say, a Burberry plaid “Bottega Veneta” handbag–Goodwill employees will use a proprietary scanner and mobile app to verify the item. If it passes the AI’s authentication process, it will get listed on the site and earn some much-needed revenue for Goodwill’s good deeds.

Each verified item will receive an Entrupy Certificate of Authenticity and financial guarantee, making it easier for shoppers to trust that the Fubu or Gucci or Louis Vuitton that they are buying on shopgoodwill.com is not just a piece of plastic printed with interlocking LVs. It’s all in the hopes of returning trust to the secondhand luxury marketplace, which is not known for consumer confidence (and for good reason). Feel free to spend your free time trolling shopgoodwill.com to see if some billionaire has donated an Hermès Kelly bag—or some guaranteed real Fubu—to the nonprofit.   [Source: Fast Company]

Employee’s theft of $13,000 in jewelry

A Missouri woman has reportedly confessed and been charged with stealing from local jewelry stores where she was an employee. Regina M. Pryor, 35, Sunrise Beach has been charged with felony stealing. According to Osage Beach Police Chief Todd Davis, the Osage Beach Police Department (OBPD) received a call from the Zales Outlet Store loss prevention associate stating an employee had allegedly stolen cash and jewelry in the amount of $13,794.62.

OBPD officers went to the Osage Beach store to investigate the claim, at which time the officers spoke with the LP associate.  “He said a theft occurred while Pryor was working at Kay Jewelers, which has since closed.” Pryor was currently working at the Zales Outlet Store. Signet Jewelers Limited operates 3,600 stores, primarily under the name brands of Kay Jewelers and Zales. She confessed to everything,” Chief Davis said.

Pryor allegedly confessed to stealing $3,785.62 in cash from an in-store purchase by an employee of a diamond ring and also stealing a $9,999 diamond bracelet in December, while working at the Kay Jewelers Store. “She said she did it because she was afraid she was going to lose her job.” Pryor also allegedly admitted to adding hours to an employee’s payroll account and collecting and keeping a portion of the overages from that employee.   [Source: Lake Expo]

Indefatigable shoplifter steals from same store 4 days in a row

A shoplifter who hit the same Decatur store four days in a row at similar times each day was arrested Monday afternoon, police said. A collection of Decatur police sworn affidavits said the 34-year-old man stole from the Walmart store at 9:13 p.m. January 6; 11:10 p.m. January 7; 9:18 p.m. January 8, and finally 8:24 p.m. January 9. Writing in the affidavits, police Officer Jason Danner said the man stole items ranging from electronic cookware to multiple pairs of jeans, for a total value of several hundred dollars.

A loss prevention associate at the store provided police with surveillance video detailing all four of the incidents. On the occasion of the last theft, the LP associate saw the man and tried to stop him as he left the store with an “Instant Pot” cooker, which Danner said was left behind while the man fled on foot.  Danner said the man has a criminal record and had been successfully identified from the surveillance video. He was booked on four preliminary charges of committing retail theft while having prior theft convictions; preliminary charges are subject to review by the state attorney’s office. The man remained in the Macon County Jail on Tuesday night in lieu of posting a total of $4,000 in bond, $1,000 for each charge. If the man does make bail, he is barred from entering any Walmart.   [Source: Herald & Review]

Employee arrested for theft of controlled substances

A Walgreens employee was arrested Tuesday after she was caught on camera stealing prescription medication from her job, according to the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office. Jennifer Forehand, 40, of Key West, was working as a pharmacy technician at the Walgreens in Big Pine Key, Florida, on January 10 when surveillance video showed her putting pills in her pocket, sheriff’s spokesman Adam Linhardt said.

A Walgreens manager noticed some pills were missing and reviewed the security camera footage. Linhardt said it showed Forehand counting several Percocet pills and placing them in her pocket. The manager said Forehand had taken five pills on Jan. 13, but she returned them, saying she had found them on the floor. The manager estimated about 18 pills were stolen since January 10. Linhardt said Forehand admitted to stealing the pills for her personal use. Forehand was arrested on a charge of grand theft of a controlled substance.    [Source: Local10 News]

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