Breaking News in the Industry: July 28, 2017

Almost 300 cartons of counterfeit toys seized at Charleston port

Protecting our shores from the constant threat of copyright infringement, US Customs and Border Protection’s Office of Field Operations seized a shipment of counterfeit toys valued at $121,442 at a Charleston port. 

Arriving in late June from China and headed to an importer based in North Carolina, Customs officials say the shipment contained multiple items bearing trademarks and copyrights registered to Cartoon Network, Apple, Saban, and Danjaq LLC, owners of the rights to James Bond intellectual properties. For those who can’t tell a Megazord from a Putty Patroller, Saban Brands holds the copyrights to the Power Rangers. 

Suspecting the goods weren’t quite on the level, the CBP contacted the actual owners of the intellectual properties being infringed upon and determined that the 284 cartons of toys were counterfeit.

“Counterfeiting robs lawful rights holders of their unique ideas and the ability to make a profit from them,” said Robert Fencel, CBP Charleston area port director, in a press release. “It damages legitimate manufacturers and can harm consumers because manufacturers of counterfeit items have little motivation to use safe, high-quality materials in their products. In essence, they’re trying to make a ‘quick buck’ off of another party’s reputation and ideas.”  [For more: Charleston City Paper]

Employee arrested for stealing electronics

Loss prevention personnel from Target called the Southington, Connecticut, Police Department on April 13, at approximately 11:23 a.m., to report an investigation of an employee theft. On July 19, at approximately 7:45 p.m., Bonnie Davis, 31, of Bristol was turned over to the Southington Police Department by Farmington police to face charges. The warrant alleges that on April 8, along with another unspecified date, Davis selected numerous high dollar items from the shelves and placed them into a shopping cart. She then took the merchandise to the delivery area where she placed the items into a box and had the items shipped to her residence. Most of the merchandise involved in this incident was electronics. Target gave a value of $5,653.31 for the merchandise. Davis was charged with third degree larceny. she was released on a $2,500 bond with a court appearance scheduled for July 31 at the Bristol Superior Court.  [For more: The Southington Observer]

Florida man charged in lottery sting takes plea deal

One of four convenience store workers arrested in a May lottery sting operation pleaded no contest Wednesday to a charge of grand theft of less than $20,000. Vishnubhai Patel, 47, appeared in court next to his defense attorney Carrie Proctor. The only words he spoke during the roughly five-minute change of plea hearing were “yes, sir” and “no, sir” when answering questions from 5th Circuit Court Judge Willard Pope. Patel will serve 18 months of probation. He also will have to reimburse the Security Department of the Florida Lottery $351.83 for the sting operation costs and complete 60 hours of community service. Grand theft of less than $20,000 is a third-degree felony punishable by up to five years in prison.

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On the night of Patel’s arrest, a Florida Lottery state official, pretending to be a customer, gave the mart’s store clerk a winning ticket valued at $599 and asked the clerk to make sure it was valid. The clerk scanned the ticket, which indicated it was a winning ticket, and then showed it to Patel. The clerk then returned to the undercover officer and said the ticket was valued at $10 and tried to sell him a $5 scratch-off ticket instead of giving the full amount, according to Patel’s arrest report. When officials returned to arrest the clerk and Patel, he told them he knew the ticket was valid and knew the clerk was going to keep it. Officials found the ticket and player claim instructions stapled together in a garbage box. Patel admitted he tossed the ticket into the box when he saw officials returning to the store, according to the report. The clerk, Pina Patel, 44, also was arrested, charged with grand theft, and solicitation and conspiracy.  [For more: Ocala StarBanner]

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Southern US is a hotbed for gun theft

2012 and 2015, thieves lifted $328 million worth of guns from private owners across the southern United States, according to a study released this week. The Center for American Progress said Tuesday more than half of the 1.2 million privately-owned firearms stolen over those three years came from southern states. Seven of the top 10 states where 22,000 guns go missing from retailers daily are southern: Texas, Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Alabama and Mississippi. “This problem does not affect all states equally,” the study says. “From 2012 through 2015, the average rate of the five states with the highest rates of gun theft from private owners, Tennessee, Arkansas, South Carolina, Oklahoma, and Alabama was 13 times higher than the average rate of the five states with the lowest rates, Hawaii, Connecticut, Rhode Island, New York, and Massachusetts.” Likewise, gun store thefts occurred 18 times more often in the top five ranking states as compared to the bottom five. Dealers in Georgia reported more than 1,100 guns stolen in 2016, a 122 percent increase over the year before. South Carolina gun store thefts tripled in the same time-frame, according to the study. “Every two minutes, a gun is stolen in America,” said Chelsea Parsons, vice president of Guns and Crime Policy at the Center for American Progress, in a press release Tuesday. “These stolen guns feed directly into illegal gun trafficking networks and are destined for use in violent crimes, so gun dealers have a substantial obligation to secure their dangerous inventory and prevent against theft.” The center recommends state and federal officials enact safe storage laws with tougher penalties for private owners, while challenging the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives to regulate security protocols and inventory compliance measures for gun dealers nationwide… so long as Congress gets out of their way.

Rep. Brad Schneider, a Democrat from Illinois, proposed a H.R. 3361 Tuesday in response to this problem. His proposal, the SECURE (Safety Enhancements for Communities Using Reasonable and Effective) Firearm Storage Act, would mandate federally licensed dealers safely store their inventory when closed for business, as well as compel the attorney general to promulgate security policies for FFLs. Compliance with these to-be-determined regulations would become part of the FFL application approval process. “The SECURE Firearm Storage Act makes practical improvements to ensure gun dealers are properly safeguarding their inventory so fewer of these weapons can be easily stolen and later used in violent crimes,” he said in a press release. “This bill is a commonsense step for gun safety, and I remain committed to finding further thoughtful ways to tackle this critical public health crisis in our communities.”
Parsons called the bill “a crucial step forward.” “Nobody in America is in favor of gun theft,” she said. “And Congress should act quickly to enact this commonsense measure to help protect all of our communities.”  [For more: Guns.com]

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