Breaking News in the Industry: July 27, 2018

shoplifting crime

Pair charged with theft for $24,500 in stolen goods

In Idaho, A Bonneville County Sheriff’s Office deputy stopped Janae Maxey, 21, from Georgia, and Robert Montgomery, 50, from New York, after he saw them driving at 57 mph in a 35 zone near the Love’s Travel Center on 45th West. While trying to find information on the pair from Bonneville County dispatch, the deputy was told the rented car the two were using matched the description of a vehicle used in burglaries in Utah.

The alert described two suspects who matched Maxey and Montgomery. They were suspected in burglaries at Cabela’s stores in Lehi and Farmington, Utah, stealing small, expensive electronics and binoculars. The loss prevention team at the Cabela’s in Ammon reported similar merchandise was missing from their store. A Sheriff’s Office news release estimated the value of the stolen goods as $7,700 from the Ammon store, $8,800 from the Farmington location and $8,000 from the Lehi store. Law enforcement also found drugs inside the car.

When they were first stopped, Maxey gave a false name, and was inconsistent on her last name and where she was from. The deputy reported he could smell marijuana. Roberts said he had smoked some and that Maxey had not used drugs. While the deputy was checking their information, Maxey reportedly attempted to hide a marijuana bud in the car by dumping chips over it. Law enforcement found three more buds and two containers labeled as medical marijuana.

- Sponsor -

Maxey and Montgomery were both charged with burglary, punishable with up to 10 years in prison, and two counts of grand theft, punishable with up to 14 years in prison. They were also charged with possession of marijuana, a misdemeanor punishable with up to a year in jail. Montgomery’s bond was set at $60,000 while Maxey’s was set at $40,000. They were arraigned in Bonneville County Courthouse on Wednesday and have preliminary hearings scheduled for 1:30 p.m. Aug. 7.    [Source: Post Register]

Mayor to let aspiring chefs, retailers test concepts in vacant storefronts

Mayor Rahm Emanuel will move Wednesday to implement his innovative plan to allow aspiring chefs and new retailers to test their concepts in vacant restaurants and storefronts. Pop-up permitting was just one of a host of mayoral reforms unveiled last spring to further improve a small business climate that had already benefited from the consolidation of business licenses. Now that the City Council has approved year-round sidewalk cafes, Emanuel is moving to implement the plan that will allow aspiring chefs and retailers to get started at minimal cost and hassle.

At Wednesday’s Council meeting, Emanuel will introduce an ordinance that will allow restaurants and retailers now required to purchase a two-year license to, instead, choose a license as short as five days. City Hall will also offer pop-up licenses for 30, 90, 180 or 365 days. The price will be a bargain, compared to the cost of a two-year license. No on-site inspection will be required. The user license won’t even be tied to a location. That means the license holder can “roam” during the length of the license and operate all around the city.

Illinois Restaurant Association President Sam Toia has said he’s all for the pop-up concept and the flexibility it provides in a city that has come to be known as a foodie haven. “Young chefs are coming to Chicago because it’s still more cost-effective than to go to San Francisco, New York or even New Orleans. They want to see will their cuisine take off here,” Toia told the Sun-Times when Emanuel unveiled the idea in April. “Say I’m a young chef who doesn’t really have the capital. If I do a pop-up, then I might get investors because they’ll say, `Wow, this is gonna work.’”

In a news release about the new ordinance, Emanuel was quoted as saying, “Chicago is home to some of the most innovative and forward-thinking entrepreneurs, and this new license, which would be the first-of-its-kind in the nation, will allow businesses to easily test out new business ideas and locations.” Aspiring entrepreneurs won’t be the only beneficiaries. Struggling neighborhood commercial strips will also benefit from pop-up restaurants and retailers that fill vacant storefronts. Neighborhood residents will benefit from having greater choice. Restaurants open for limited hours on certain days would be free to supplement their income by allowing pop-ups to use the space during down time. “We’ve listened to the small business community that has been calling for retail food pop–ups for a long time,” Business Affairs and Consumer Protection Commissioner Rosa Escareno was quoted as saying. “We are very excited to give pop–up users and hosts this opportunity and want to make this process as easy as possible for everyone.”   [Source: Chicago Sun-Times]

Three arrested after scuffle

A Saturday-afternoon fight at a California Walmart resulted in three arrests for the Lodi Police Department. Officers arrived at approximately 4 p.m. Saturday, according to Lodi Police Sgt. Andre Belaski, and learned that the store’s loss prevention officer approached three customers suspected of attempted shoplifting and began escorting them from the store when Timnejha Wilson, 23, of Stockton, reportedly threw a water bottle at a loss prevention associate. Derek Gordon, 21, of Stockton, then reportedly struck a loss prevention associate in the head before 18-year-old Imoni Cobbs of Antioch reportedly joined Gordon and Wilson in attacking the LP associate. “The injuries were minor,” Belaski said. Payton McCormick, media relations manager for Walmart, said that two employees were involved in the altercation and took a few days off, although they are scheduled to return to work soon.

Gordon reportedly threatened to kill Walmart staff, and Cobbs reportedly gave Lodi police a false name and said she was a minor when the three were taken into custody. Officers learned Cobbs’ real name when they took her fingerprints, and arrested her on suspicion of attempted robbery, criminal threats, battery, providing false identification to police and several outstanding warrants. Gordon was arrested on suspicion of attempted robbery, battery and threatening a witness and Wilson was arrested on suspicion of attempted robbery, battery and several outstanding warrants. Lodi Police Sgt. Steve Maynard said he and his fellow officers receive shoplifting calls from big box stores such as Walmart nearly every day, although the calls do not always involve physical altercations. “Those are some of our most common calls for service, it’s almost a daily occurrence,” Maynard said. “Especially with all the development on Lower Sacramento Road and Kettleman Lane, those places are getting hit quite often.”   [Source: Lodi News-Sentinel]

Grocery chain offers scan, pay, and go ‘as-you-shop’ option

Giant Eagle is rolling out Scan Pay & Go. The Pittsburgh-based grocer launched the service in its home market last month and has now brought it to several stores in Ohio. Similar to Kroger’s system, Scan Pay & Go works with either a smartphone app, available for Apple and Android devices, or a hand-held scanner picked up inside the front door of the store. Shoppers scan items and bag them as they go around the store.

The move toward getting shoppers to adopt such systems helps retailers in a couple of ways. First, consumers want convenience. Second, apps and hand-held scanners are cheaper than self-checkout machines. “The traditional checkout yourself is expensive,” said Leigh Helsel, vice president of retail strategies at Information Control Co., a Columbus-based information-technology company “It is much cheaper to build an app and have consumers do it themselves.”

For payment, Giant Eagle has a separate lane for Scan Pay & Go shoppers, or they can use any of the other lanes. A scan of a bar code at the register loads the order and payment is made as usual. Any option that reduces lines or wait times is a welcome addition in retail, Helsel said. “Whichever way you can make it more convenient for people, you do it,” she said, “because people don’t like waiting in lines.” Giant Eagle has rolled out the service to just a few stores at first, but plans to expand it to nine additional stores, including those in Powell, Gahanna, Polaris, Upper Arlington and Westerville, among others, in the coming weeks.   [Source: The Columbus Dispatch]

Woman caught using high-tech bags to shoplift

San Antonio police have arrested a woman who they say was doing some high-tech shoplifting. Police said 31-year-old Karena Brown had an unusual tool that helped her get stolen items past loss prevention teams.  According to an arrest warrant affidavit, undercover security officers saw the crime go down. Police said Brown used a special shopping bag during her shoplifting attempt last Wednesday. They say the bag was lined with a special material that prevents electronic article surveillance tags from setting off alarms at the door, enabling her to leave undetected.

The arrest affidavit said undercover loss prevention associates at North Star Mall were watching and saw her. Brown and three other women entered the store with the specially lined bags. When the group later saw a uniformed guard follow them, they took off running. Police eventually stopped their car and found about a $1,000 worth of merchandise inside. Police were able to arrest Brown as well as the others at that time, the affidavit said. She is charged with engaging in organized criminal activity.   [Source: KSAT12 News]

Retail crime rings drive costs for retailers

Thieves and gangs are stealing products from local grocery stores and reselling the items on the black market or to local convenience stores. Organized retail crime is a multi-billion-dollar business that increases the cost of groceries. It can also put shoppers in danger. Kroger has surveillance cameras in every store to both monitor their products and protect their shoppers. “Our cameras are about safety first because when you’re dealing with criminals there is a chance someone could get hurt,” said Robby Baker, Kroger’s Asset Protection Manager. Kroger has an Organized Retail Crime Unit (OCR) that targets crime rings in Nashville.

“A lot of your gangs now are sending people into the retail world to steal large amounts of items,” said the unit’s manager. He asked that News 2 conceal his identity because he often works undercover.  He told News 2 that his unit targets the “booster” and the “fencing operation.” The booster is the person who steals hundreds to thousands of dollars’ worth of products. He or she will act quickly, clearing shelves before walking out the front door.  The booster is often poor or addicted to drugs while the fencing operation is the person or persons who buy the goods to resell.

“A fencing operator will feed off of that addiction,” Baker told News 2. “They know the person’s addicted to it, they know they’re trying to make money, they can make that person make money for them. They’ll send them into a grocery store with a list.”  The operations cost consumers $54 billion a year nationwide. “There’s going to be higher prices for consumers,” said the unit manager. “The stores have to recoup the loss somehow so they, in turn, put it back into the price.”

The unit says over-the-counter medications; meat, beer, and Tide are coveted by criminals. “Tide is expensive, and it’s huge on the black market,” the unit manager told News 2. “People are selling Tide online all day long. They’re selling it at flea markets, they’re selling it at convenience stores.” Last Wednesday, the Z-Mart on Lafayette Street was shut down because, in part, the store employers were buying and selling goods they knew were stolen. Some of the goods were from Kroger. Kroger says stores that resell stolen goods are a blight on a community and often lead to other crime.

“It will destroy a community because it brings in a criminal element to that area,” said the unit manager. “When we do search warrants with law enforcement we’ll find guns, drugs, things that lead us to other avenues of crime.”  Kroger’s OCR Unit operates in Tennessee, Kentucky and Alabama. It says it takes retail crime seriously because it is considered a “gateway crime” that leads to other crimes. Those who were involved in Z-Mart have a hearing on Wednesday.   [Source: WKRN2 News]

Stay Updated

Get critical information for loss prevention professionals, security and retail management delivered right to your inbox.