Breaking News in the Industry: January 25, 2019

TV thief pepper-sprays AP team member

Osceola County detectives arrested a Florida woman last week after she attacked an asset protection member with pepper spray while trying to steal a television from a Walmart store. According to an Osceola County Sheriff’s Office report, deputies responded to the Walmart in Kissimmee  after receiving a retail theft report. Members of the store’s assets protection team told deputies they attempted to detain two female suspects who had walked out of the store without paying for two televisions. When the suspects were told to stop by Asset Protection, one of the females immediately ran away. But the second suspect, identified as Tyeisha Angella Shaw, 30,turned around and pepper sprayed the Asset Protection member, the report stated. Both suspects escaped before deputies could arrive. The AP associate was not injured during the incident.

On January 18, detectives with the Osceola County Sheriff’s Office Tourism Policing and Robbery Unit units obtained enough evidence to identify Shaw. Detectives conducted surveillance in Orlando and placed her under arrest. She was charged with possession of chemical agent by a convicted felon, grand theft, battery and resisting a merchant. Detectives are still looking for the second female suspect and other possible victims. Anyone with information regarding the case is asked to contact the Osceola County Sheriff’s Office at 407.348.2222 or CrimeLine at 800.423.TIPS, where information leading to an arrest may be eligible for a $1,000 reward.   [Source: Osceola News-Gazette]

Historic neon sign stolen, found, returned

A piece of San Jose history that was stolen a few months ago has been recovered. The iconic Orchard Supply Hardware neon sign that hung above the downtown store is back under lock and key with History San Jose. The Orchard Supply chain went out of business in August, and for the past three months, the theft of the iconic sign that had marked the downtown location since the 1950s has been a neighborhood mystery. “No one saw it happen,” gas station clerk Kamryn Duque said. “We even had cops come up to see if we had surveillance for here at the gas station to see if they can have any clues of who took it.”

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After months of detective work, San Jose police investigators located the neon OSH sign. Ken Middlebrook, the curator of collections for History San Jose, says the man who took the sign actually took good care of it. “He evidently was concerned about what’s going to happen to this historic sign, so he took it upon himself, not knowing that there was already other preservation efforts toward the sign,” Middlebrook said. “But he took it upon himself to remove the sign for safekeeping in his own warehouse.” Middlebrook wasn’t sure if charges will be pressed against the alleged culprit. The plan for History San Jose is to fully restore the sign, including all the neon that used to light it up. It will eventually be part of an outdoor exhibit at History Park.   [Source: NBC Bay Area]

Amazon’s worker safety wearable protect workers from robots

Over the course of the last year, Amazon began rolling out a new worker safety wearable to 25+ sites. From the looks of it, the Robotic Tech Vest is really more like a pair of suspenders attached to an electronic utility belt. The Amazon Robotics-designed product was created to keep workers safe when they need to enter a space in order to fix a robotic system or retrieve fallen items. Built-in sensors alert Amazon’s robotic systems to the wearer’s presence, and they slow down to avoid collision. The vest is designed to work in tandem with the robots’ existing obstacle avoidance detection.

“All of our robotic systems employ multiple safety systems ranging from training materials, to physical barriers to entry, to process controls, to on-board,” Amazon Robotics VP Brad Porter told TechCrunch. “In the past, associates would mark out the grid of cells where they would be working in order to enable the robotic traffic planner to smartly route around that region. What the vest allows the robots to do is detect the human from farther away and smartly update its travel plan to steer clear without the need for the associate to explicitly mark out those zones.” Porter notes that tests with the vest have a “huge success,” with “more than one million unique activations” having been recorded with the systems it’s deployed thus far.    [Source: TechCrunch]

Spotting phony pickups and ID scams is crucial for cargo safety

Last week, FreightWaves ran an article on the ubiquity of cargo theft and how hijackers have gotten bolder over time, pulling off large heists without getting caught. Cargo theft is of concern because a majority of the crimes are not attributed to desperate lone wolves, but to organized crime syndicates that are sophisticated in their modus operandi, shadowing their targets for a while before striking.

However, such daring escapades apart, there exists a section of cargo theft that is almost entirely attributable to the gullibility of brokers and carriers – namely, fictitious pickups and identity (ID) theft. As the trucking industry is not vetted or pressure-tested to the extent that the banking system is, it is hard for people to spot red flags that arise from fictitious pickups and ID scams. That being said, the industry at large needs to contend with a lack of clarity in cargo theft occurrences, mainly due to the lack of communications among brokerage firms that only view each other as competition. Though platforms like CargoNet, Carrier411, and TIA Watchdog exist, there is a data disconnect between them. This means that if an incident is reported on CargoNet, it will not show up on TIA Watchdog if it isn’t reported separately on that platform.

In part, the underlying problem can be blamed (at least in part) on the the lack of awareness within the industry about the seriousness of cargo theft. Fleets need to better understand the issue and start training drivers on the “do’s and don’ts” while on the road… like identifying safe parking lots, warning drivers of known “hot spots,” sealing trailers, being in constant touch with the back office through GPS tracking, and having full disclosure of the load they haul.

However, on the broker’s end, it is often hard to identify fictitious carriers as the industry works on the basis of trust. When a load is confirmed, it is either done through email, fax, or a telephone call. The nature of the load-booking process does not warrant the broker to physically be on the spot to check the carrier in question, and this increases the risk of being duped.

Technologies like blockchain may assist in cargo safety, connecting watchdog platforms to make it easier for the trucking community to report and exercise caution. Blockcerts is a good example; it leverages blockchain to verify driver certification including academic credentials, professional certifications, workforce development, and civic records. Meanwhile, it would also help if brokerages communicated more fully and trained their personnel on cargo safety. These are perilous times and judicious measures would save everyone a great deal of trouble.   [Source: FreightWaves]

Theft charges brought against c-store employee

A Lake Mills, Iowa, man is accused of stealing from the convenience store where he worked. Justin Richard Ivey, 24, is charged with 2nd degree theft in Worth County District Court. According to court documents, Ivey was working at the Kum and Go store near the Diamond Jo Casino and would take items off the shelves or have someone bring an item up to the counter, ring them up as returned items, and then always gave the cash to the same person. Ivey is accused of doing this 12 times between November 4 and November 14, 2018, for a total of $2,293.95. Ivey has been fired from the store.   [Source: KIMT3 News]

More store closings announced

In what has become a depressingly routine event among traditional retailers, Nordstrom will close two of its full-line stores… in Norfolk, Virginia, and Wellington, Florida. The closures, which are scheduled for April 5 and will affect approximately 150 employees, were announced Wednesday by the Seattle retailer. “Looking at the needs in these markets and the investments needed to sustain these stores, we decided it made the most sense to close these stores and focus on other ways we can best serve our customers, including nearby Nordstrom and Nordstrom Rack stores as well as online,” said Jamie Nordstrom, company president, in a statement. The announcement comes amid generally dismal news from traditional retailers. Both Macy’s and Kohl’s turned in less-than-stellar numbers for a holiday season that many analysts had expected would lift old-line retailers.   [Source: The Seattle Times]

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