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Breaking News in the Industry: January 23, 2018

LP associate almost stabbed during alleged shoplifting

Three people from Chattanooga, Tennessee, were arrested this past week after they allegedly shoplifted at the Sweetwater Walmart and tried to stab an employee. Sweetwater Officer Brandon Cansler said he was told two people had pushed a buggy full of merchandise out of the store without paying and as an employee tried to stop them, one pulled out a pair of scissors and tried to stab the employee Monday night around 9:30 p.m. Cansler said he was given the description of a dark gray Nissan Altima with tinted windows to look for and he soon found it on New Highway 68 near Cleveland Road. He stopped the car and found the driver to be Quwana Young, the front seat passenger Jeremiah Woods, and in the backseat was Delicia Brown, all from Chattanooga. Cansler said he could see blue jeans with tags still on them in the backseat along with two food saver machines. Cansler said he talked to Officer Suzanne Ward, who was at the Walmart, and Brown and Woods matched the description of the two people who had allegedly left the store with an unpaid buggy of items. Ward said Woods matched the description of the person who had attempted to stab the employee. Woods had also been banned from all Walmart stores for a previous transgression. Cansler had everybody in the car get out and said he found a pair of scissors in the backseat. A further search of the car turned up a large air mattress still in its box in the trunk of the car. Cansler said all the items had a total value of $1,138.06. Woods, 20, was charged with criminal trespassing, theft over $1,000 and aggravated assault. Brown, 20,and Young, 22, were both charged with theft over $1,000.  [Source: The Advocate & Democrat]

Connecticut man sent to prison for running $4M shoplifting operation

A Connecticut man has been sentenced to more than a year in prison for running a large-scale fencing operation. Federal prosecutors say 43-year-old Matthew Harwood, of Stratford, will report to prison March 19 after being sentenced Thursday to 18 months in prison. Hardwood pleaded guilty in 2016 to interstate transport of stolen property and conspiracy to commit the interstate transport of stolen property. Prosecutors say Harwood ran a ring of shoplifters who stole from Petco, Staples, Walmart, Bed Bath & Beyond and other retailers. Harwood and another man, Andrew Sacco, then sold the stolen items on eBay, Amazon and other online sites. Prosecutors estimate the scheme cost retailers nearly $4 million.  [Source: CTpost]

Amazon Go opens to the public

More than a year after launching the pilot, Amazon has opened its highly anticipated Amazon Go store in Seattle to the public, open 7 a.m. — 9 p.m., Monday through Friday. The 1,800 square foot store is “conveniently compact,” according to the company. Shoppers there need an Amazon account, the free Amazon Go app and a recent-generation iPhone or Android smartphone. Once the app is open and the shopper is scanned, the phone can be put away. Customers simply walk out with products, which have been automatically deposited to their Amazon baskets and paid for with the form of payment registered to their account. While the store reportedly suffered bugs over the past year, including how to deal with multiple shoppers (including kids) on one account, they have apparently been smoothed out, according to IHL Group Vice President of Technology Jerry Sheldon, who shared his own visit there in recent weeks with Retail Dive. “It’s absolutely fascinating — it really operated smoothly,” he said in an interview. “There were no glitches. The system functioned flawlessly, with no limitations placed upon any items I selected.” [Source: Retail Dive]

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Off-duty police officer arrested for shoplifting

According to police, officers responded to the shoplifting call around 3:45 p.m. Thursday and discovered that the arrested individual was off-duty San Antonio Police Officer Stephanie Solis. Solis, a nine-year veteran, was seen concealing merchandise in her purse before walking out of the store without paying, police said. Loss prevention associates detained Solis until SAPD arrived. Solis was taken into custody and booked for Theft $100-750, a Class B misdemeanor.  “The San Antonio Police Department issued the following statement on the incident: “Officer Stephanie Solis is a nine year veteran of the San Antonio Police Department. She will be placed on administrative leave pending further investigation. The theft case will be submitted to the District Attorney’s Office for review and an Internal Affairs investigation into this incident is already underway.”  [Source: KSAT12 News]

Identity thieves behind bars after victim tracks down transactions

Redding, California, police said they arrested a pair of professional identity thieves after the victim who had her wallet stolen began following the shopping transactions and alerted officers. Police arrested Camila Fernandez, 25, and Julietta Smith, 29, both of Los Angeles, as the culprits who stole a wallet from Elisa Bearden, of Redding, charging nearly $10,000 on her credit cards within a two-hour period. Bearden told police she was shopping at T.J. Maxx Friday evening when she noticed her wallet was stolen. Within an hour, she received notifications that her card was being used in multiple locations in Redding. Bearden went to each of the businesses where her credit cards were used, only to miss Smith and Fernandez by minutes, police said. She drove to the Mt. Shasta Mall after she learned that her credit card was being used at Macy’s, and worked with the loss prevention associate there to find the suspects on video surveillance and contacted police. A Redding police officer, assisted by a loss prevention associates from Macy’s and Mt. Shasta Mall security, found the pair at Foot Locker. The officer ended up detaining Smith and Fernandez in handcuffs because they didn’t cooperate with the officers.

After searching their belongings, an officer discovered items that had been stolen from Bearden. They also found a “booster bag,” which is a purse lined with aluminum foil to thwart electronic security devices and contains false compartments. The purse also contained a powerful magnet, which is used by thieves to deactivate electronic security devices, police said.  Fernandez initially falsely identified herself with a fake ID from Puerto Rico before she was identified through her fingerprints. Officers also found that Fernandez had a felony warrant out of Oregon Smith also provided identification from Puerto Rico, but despite getting her fingerprints, police said they could not immediately confirm her identity. Officers learned the pair had already created a fake Nevada identification card using Bearden’s name, but with a picture of Camila Fernandez, which is how they were allowed to use Bearden’s credit cards at multiple stores. In addition to charging $10,000 on Bearden’s card, they stole approximately $6,000 in cash from Bearden’s wallet of which police recovered $1,200. Aside from the missing cash and wallet, officers were able to recover all of the Bearden’s property.  An officer searched the pair’s car and found items that are used to create fake identifications and a large amount of property that was recently purchased from nearby stores. Officers said Smith and Fernandez appear to be professional identity thieves and have no contacts in Redding. Both women were booked on suspicion of a number of charges relating to identity theft and conspiracy.  [Source: Record Searchlight]

Wyoming shoplifter who claimed kleptomania research pleads

A 24-year-old Wyoming woman who claimed she shoplifted from Walmart as part of her research for a college term paper on kleptomania has pleaded guilty to two counts of felony shoplifting. Lydia Marie Cormaney also pleaded guilty Jan. 3 in District Court to two counts of misdemeanor shoplifting. As part of a plea agreement, prosecutors will recommend she serve suspended three- to six-year sentences on the felonies with three years of supervised probation and suspended 180-day jail sentences on the misdemeanors with six months of probation, all concurrent. The Gillette News Record reports that she also must pay restitution on all the counts.
Sentencing is set for June 4. [Source: US News]

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