Breaking News in the Industry: January 18, 2019

Gunshots and car jacking after shoplift incident

Eighteen-year-old Dejuantez Stewart was arrested Wednesday on charges related to several incidents. According to an arrest report, Stewart was seen on camera walking into the Family Dollar, stealing five frozen pizzas and running out of the store. An employee of the Family Dollar reportedly confronted Stewart who was trying to get into the front passenger seat of a black Nissan Juke stolen from another location. The employee told officers that Stewart pulled out a handgun and fired shots at him. He was not hurt.

Police said one bullet shattered the glass of a vehicle in the parking lot and caused multiple cuts to the face of the driver inside. Another bullet hit the window of a nearby building. Police said the stolen Nissan Juke eventually wrecked at Third Avenue North and James Robertson Parkway. Officers were flagged down a few minutes later by a man who said Stewart and another man had stolen his Mitsubishi Eclipse and his wallet at gunpoint. A receipt from Murfreesboro was located inside the Nissan Juke and police said it helped trace the crime back to Stewart. Stewart faces numerous charges including aggravated assault with a deadly weapon. Police have not said if the other suspect has been identified and arrested.   [Source: WKRN2 News]

Employees allege wrongful termination for shoplift incident

Jennifer Weinstein and Dwight Spencer feel they’re victims of a bad policy. In November, they were both fired from the Nike Factory Store at the Fashion Outlets in Niagara Falls. According to a termination letter, the employees broke company policy by leaving the store after a suspected shoplifting incident. Weinstein and Spencer told News 4 they left the store in the hands of other sales associates, to go outside and wait for police. “I had worked at that company for nine years. I started in their flagship store. Like, working for them was my entire life,” Weinstein said. When she was handed a termination letter just days after the incident…. she felt blindsided.

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Surveillance video obtained by News 4 shows the two suspected shoplifters leaving the store with several articles of clothing. According to a police report on the incident, they took around $250 worth of merchandise. “I tried to grab merchandise from them leaving the store I kinda got pushed in the back and they ran out of the store,” Spencer said. It’s against Nike policy for employees to follow suspected shoplifters out of the store; it’s a common retail practice, designed to keep employees safe and deter vigilante justice. But Spencer and Weinstein said they never intended to follow the suspects, and only went outside to flag down law enforcement; something they thought was in the best interest of the store. “I walked out after we called the police to see if anyone was out there because normally the police circle the mall,” Spencer said. “Once we got out there we actually got the opportunity to see the vehicle that the suspects were in to get their license plate number and we waited for the police there.” Nike released the following statement: “The safety of our employees and consumers is our highest priority. While we know our employees share our desire to create a great environment for consumers in our stores, it is equally important that we work together to ensure a safe environment for both employees and consumers. We do this in part through policies that reflect industry best practices, and we provide ongoing training and support for our employees on these policies. With their safety in mind, we expect that employees abide by all policies.”   [Source: WIVB4 News]

BBB says free trials and subscription traps are costing consumers millions

Those free trial ads for products can be tempting. You see them all over social media. But an investigation by the Better Business Bureau found those ads can be deceptive and in some cases an outright scam. With promises of weight loss, whiter teeth, and wrinkle repair the free trials get your attention. The BBB’s David Smitherman says once you sign on the dotted line it’s hard to cancel that free subscription and even harder to get your money back.

The BBB survey logged 2,400 complaints nationwide and $5.6 million dollars lost. An estimated 72 percent of the victims are women. “It’s critical you read the fine print. Know exactly what the time period is to return the samples,” warns Smitherman. Of those who applied for a full refund with their credit cards the BBB found 42% got the full refund; 14% percent a partial refund, and 44% none at all. Celebrities including Oprah Winfrey, Chrissy Teigen, Ellen Degeneres, Tim Allen and Sally Field say their pictures are being used in these ads without their knowledge or permission. The celebrity endorsements in many cases are fake.   [Source: ABC3340 News]

Suspect charged with theft of wine, setting merchandise ablaze

A Litchfield, Maine, man was arrested Monday afternoon on allegations he stole and drank a box of wine at Walmart on Civic Center Drive, and also burned purses and a knife so the store items were “easier to steal,” police said. Jacob Lorance, 30, was arrested on a probation hold and subsequently charged with two counts of arson and one count of theft by unauthorized taking — elevated by two prior convictions — after the incident.

After Lorance was arrested and taken to Kennebec County jail in Augusta, he allegedly told police that he committed the crime to get his ex-girlfriend’s attention. Augusta Police Officer Nicholas Sterling responded to Walmart after a loss prevention associate alerted them to a man shoplifting and burning merchandise, according to an affidavit. In an initial conversation with Sterling and the employee, Lorance said he did not steal anything, nor light any merchandise on fire. The loss prevention associate told Sterling that Lorance had stolen and consumed a box of wine in the lobby of the Dunkin’ Donuts inside the store.

After the conversation moved into the loss prevention office, Lorance admitted to setting purses on fire in order to make them “easier to steal,” according to the affidavit. He also admitted to setting fire to the packaging for a knife in order to get access to it. The affidavit did not go into detail on the damage to the purses, but said Walmart would not be able to sell them.   [Source: CentralMaine.com]

Old school barcode switching lands suspect in jail

A man who switched barcode labels in a Decatur store and tried to walk away having paid 48 cents for items valued at nearly $300 was caught before he made it out the door, police said. The 34-year-old man was intercepted by the loss prevention team at the Walmart store, and later arrested there by Decatur police. A sworn affidavit said he was booked on a preliminary charge of retail theft while having a previous theft conviction, which is subject to review by the Macon County State’s Attorney’s Office.

The affidavit quoted the man as telling officers he had been told “about a scam” involving swapped barcodes and wanted to see if it would work. The affidavit described how he switched codes from Kool-Aid packets for a KitchenAid food mixer and a Lego toy set together valued at $298.97. Officers then asked (the man) what he thought when the items rang up as only 48 cents, to which he replied, ‘I thought it was my lucky day,’” the affidavit said. The man remained in the Macon County Jail on Monday night in lieu of posting $5,000 bail. If he makes bail, he is ordered to stay out of all Walmart stores.   [Source: Herald & Review]

Four arrested in heist of 966 cases of tequila

Four men in Florida were arrested and charged after more than $500,000 worth of tequila was stolen from a truck driver in a cargo theft incident. Tampa’s Fox 13 reports the trucker was heading from Miami to Tampa when his trailer was stolen from the Tampa Truck Stop off of U.S. Highway 301. Law enforcement arrested Vidal Estrada, Lemuel Escobar, Humberto Ramirez and Alberto Obaya and other crimes related to liquor theft. They are accused of detaching and stealing a trailer with 966 cases of Patrón tequila worth $507,105 in retail value.   [Source: CCJ Digital]

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