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Breaking News in the Industry: January 31, 2018

Asset protection leader sentenced for helping steal from store

An honorably discharged Marine who worked as an asset protection leader for Target in San Antonio, Texas, was sentenced Monday to just over 3 years in federal prison for his role in wiping out $115,000 from Target gift cards before customers could use them. Senior U.S. District Judge Royce Lamberth also ordered Jaymes Allen Clark, 34, to pay Target back $115,000 — the amount the retailer had to reimburse the cardholders, who alerted Target to the fraud when their gift cards were inappropriately zeroed out. Court records said Clark, who worked for two years as an asset protection team leader, spent a lot of his work time at the Target store logging into an internal Target gift card database and provided information from it to at least two accomplices. The accomplices used the info and a cellphone app to get more Target or iTunes gift cards that they could redeem at cash value. Target told the Secret Service that the retailer’s investigation found Clark spent more time on the gift card system than any other employee in the country with similar permission to access the database and used to search for and identify activated Target gift cards, Secret Service agent Jeff Francis testified at Clark’s bail hearing in October.

“I made a titanic mistake,” Clark told the judge Monday. “I want to apologize to the Target Corporation.” Clark’s lawyer, Guillermo Lara, pleaded with the judge to give his client 21 months in prison because he pleaded guilty to trafficking in unauthorized access devices within 30 days of being charged. “You did the right thing once you realized the jig was up,” Lamberth told Clark. However, the judge said he couldn’t give Clark 21 months because of a prior, pending case. Clark had received deferred adjudication for a 2011 drug possession charge in College Station and still faced sentencing for allegedly violating the terms of that probation, records show. Clark received a sentence of 41 months. According to agent Francis, Clark scanned Target’s database for newly activated gift cards and provided account numbers to his accomplices. The alleged accomplices, whose identities have not been released, would take a gift card number and enter it into “a phone app that takes any number and turns it into a bar code,” Francis said. He said the alleged accomplices would then put the bar code on the phone up to a register scanner at Target to purchase iTunes gift cards or other Target gift cards, and “essentially clean that first gift card.” “There were some instances where cards were activated one day in one part of the country and used later that same day somewhere else,” Francis testified.  [Source: MySanAntonio]

Serial burglars suspected of stealing $500,000 worth of cosmetics in California, Las Vegas are arrested

Two Long Beach, California, men suspected of stealing a half-million dollars worth of merchandise from retail cosmetic stores across Southern California and in Las Vegas were arrested Saturday, Jan. 27, in Riverside, according to a Riverside County Sheriff’s Department news release and jail records. Niko Hayes, 28, and Burrell Doumont Roberts Jr., 27, have been linked to at least 20 commercial burglaries, according to the release. The investigation is continuing and more may be discovered, officials said. Investigators collected evidence pertaining to burglary locations in 19 cities across six counties in California and Nevada, including Moreno Valley in Riverside County, and undisclosed locations in Orange and Los Angeles counties. They served several search warrants and recovered about $70,000 of stolen property.

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Hayes and Roberts were arrested without incident at 4 p.m. Saturday, according to the release and jail records. Both were booked at the Robert Presley Detention Center in Riverside on suspicion of 20 counts of second-degree burglary, 20 counts of felony vandalism, 20 counts of conspiracy to commit a felony and one count of committing multiple felonies that resulted in the victims’ loss of more than $100,000, according to jail records. Roberts also was booked for a felony probation violation that made him ineligible for bail. Hayes’ bail was set at $300,000 and he remained in custody Tuesday. A special enforcement team in Moreno Valley conducted the investigation with several other police agencies, sheriff’s officials said. Anyone with information about the case is asked to contact the robbery and burglary suppression team at the Moreno Valley station at 951-486-6700.  [Source: Los Angeles Daily News]

Employee gets three years probation in theft

A former Sahuarita Arizona GameStop employee was placed on three years’ probation Monday after pleading guilty to theft in Pima County Superior Court.  Samantha Stiles, 35, was arrested on suspicion of theft Sept. 22 after a GameStop loss prevention officer discovered numerous gift cards had been stolen, according to a Sahuarita Police report. Stiles was accused of using her employee identification number to access the store’s computer to load various gift cards she removed from the shelf with $500 each, Police Sgt. Michael Falquez said at the time. Stiles confessed she had loaded more than $10,500 to the cards since August, he said. [Source: Green Valley News]

Alleged shoplifter kicked police officer in face during arrest

An alleged shoplifter faces obstruction and battery charges after authorities say she attacked an Alpharetta, Georgia, police officer during an arrest and threatened to spit on other officers. Kimberly Harvey allegedly struck Orly Coffey in the face with her knee, forcing the officer to fall to the ground, according to a Jan. 15 police report. Coffey also suffered lacerations to her knees.  Alpharetta police first spotted Harvey, 24, of Stone Mountain, and another woman walking near a Total Wine in North Point Mall, according to the report. As the officer attempted to stop them, Harvey kept walking.  “I told her stop, but she told me she did not do anything wrong,” Alpharetta Officer M. Swerdlove wrote in the report. A short time later, Coffey saw Harvey and ordered her to stop. Harvey, again, didn’t listen.

Police said she led Coffey on a brief chase and resisted arrest before she was handcuffed and placed in the backseat of a patrol car.  But police said a combative Harvey began kicking the rear window, forcing Coffey to remove her from the car and restrain Harvey’s feet.  That’s when police said Harvey assaulted Coffey, kicking her in the head and causing her to fall. Harvey kept kicking Coffey and yelling, according to the report. At one point, Harvey allegedly threatened to spit on officers. 
Other officers eventually restrained Harvey and took her to the Fulton County jail.  Coffey was taken to Emory Johns Creek Hospital and treated for her injuries.  Stores declined to press charges against Harvey and her friends for shoplifting.  [Source: Atlanta Journal Constitution]

Assistant principal arrested for shoplifting

An assistant principal for Fairfax County Public Schools has been arrested for shoplifting at a Target store in Reston, Virginia.  Fairfax County police say officers responded to the store located in the 12100 block of Sunset Hills Road last Thursday Police say Melissa Tochterman was seen on surveillance video leaving the store with a shopping cart full of unpaid merchandise worth $690. Police arrested the 47-year-old Herndon woman and have charged her with grand larceny. Tochterman is an assistant principal at Hunters Woods Elementary School in Reston. Fairfax County Public Schools said she has been placed on leave following her arrest. [Source: Fox5 News]

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Marijuana, terrorism and organized labor fuel 17% surge in security guard wages

Despite the lowest unemployment rate since 2000, wages for American workers rose at a relatively tepid pace last year. For security guards, it’s a different story. Average hourly earnings for employees in security and armored car services jumped 17 percent to $17.45 in the 13 months through November, compared with a 2.5 percent increase for all U.S. private-sector workers in the same period. Why such big gains? Possible reasons include terrorism, marijuana and organized labor.

  •  Terror threats: The threat of mass shootings and domestic terrorism is driving demand for security in atypical venues, according to Steve Amitay, Executive Director of the National Association of Security Companies in Washington. Amitay pointed to the 2012 movie-theater shooting in Aurora, Colorado, as an example. Other shootings in Orlando, Florida; Las Vegas; and a church in Sutherland Springs, Texas, suggest greater demand for armed security at public venues could rise.
  • Pot security: Another hot area for security is pot. Dispensaries are popping up across the country as more states legalize marijuana. In Denver alone, there are 230 retail marijuana stores, according to the city’s website. That’s far more than Starbucks, which lists 50 retail locations in the area. “The cannabis industry has created a lot more security officer jobs,” said Michael Julian, president of MPSI, a consulting firm in the cannabis industry. Dispensaries often pay their security guards higher wages than the industry standard due to the merchandise they protect, he said. Armored security vehicles sometimes escort the drugs and cash from the business.
  • Labor gains: In California, Tiffany Dinkins credits her union for rising wages. Just a year ago, the ex-army officer was working two security jobs in San Francisco to provide for her family, including three children. But in recent months, Dinkins saw her pay steadily increase, finally creeping above $20 an hour, and she decided to focus on a single job as an ABC News security guard. Dinkins said she saw a big change in wages when she moved to San Francisco from Atlanta and joined the Service Employees International Union, which has helped secure pay gains. Working in California “was better because I had increases guaranteed,” with raises considerably bigger than the ones in Georgia, Dinkins said. “You go from 10 cents to someone giving you a dollar increase.”
 [Source: The Cannabist]

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