Breaking News in the Industry: June 18, 2018

Employee steals $300K from gas station

An overnight employee at a New Jersey gas station was arrested following accusations that he stole more than $300,000 from his job over the span of almost three years, prosecutors announced. Authorities claim that Mario Rosas Delavega Rocha, 42, was stealing more than $100,000 annually from the gas station where he worked between January 2015 through June 2017, which amounted “to more than quintuple his regular income.”

Rocha was the only midnight shift attendant for the BP gas station on the Elmora Circle on U.S. Routes 1&9 in Elizabeth from April 2008 through June 2017, according to Union County Assistant Prosecutor Derek Nececkas, who added that in early 2015, the company discovered a discrepancy between the amount of fuel being delivered to the station on a daily basis and its daily sales.

Subsequent inspections ruled out concerns about mechanical problems, an underground leak and equipment issues, according to the investigation led by the Union County Prosecutor’s Office’s Special Prosecutions Unit. Additionally, after a series computer diagnostics it was allegedly determined that the loss of fuel was only occurring during the early morning hours.

- Sponsors -

According to authorities, Rocha allegedly manipulated computer equipment on the gas pumps to conceal sales of fuel, which resulted in him pocketing hundreds of dollars on a daily basis while going undetected, Nececkas said. Rochas annual income was $22,000, but a review of his bank and credit card records allegedly revealed six figures’ worth of deposits and expenditures, authorities say. Rocha was charged with a single count of theft in the second degree. He faces up to 10 years in state prison if convicted.   [Source: NBC4 New York]

Women carjack, kidnap, shoplift with children in tow

Metro Police in Tennessee arrested two women over the weekend after a bizarre crime spree that included both carjacking and shoplifting. Investigators allege Akia Davis and Marquia Talley jumped into a woman’s car in Hermitage and ordered her to drive. The woman refused, so, according to an arrest report, Talley jumped in the woman’s lap and tried steering the car and hitting the gas. Police say the women were fleeing from a nearby Kohl’s where they’d allegedly shoplifted mote than $1,200 in merchandise. Two children were with Davis and Talley, police said. The women are charged with carjacking and kidnapping and Talley is additionally charged with assaulting an officer during the getaway bid.   [Source: East Nashville Patch]

Man arrested in connection with  jewelry theft caught on camera

Police in Visalia, California, have arrested the man they believe stole thousands of dollars worth of jewelry from the Chelsea Street Boutique.

 It happened at around noon Wednesday when employees were in the back of the store.

 Police say that they arrested 43-year-old Joe Cervantes for the crime. The Chelsea Street Boutique shared surveillance video with Action News showing a man grabbing a case of women’s rings from the front counter and walking out.

 Michaela Ivans was still on her lunch break but heard her co-worker yelling at the man as he ran away.

 “Hey! Bring that back! You’re on camera.” Ivans said.

A woman outside saw the suspect get into a car, and she got the license plate number.

 After looking at the video, Ivans knew right away who it was.
 He first came to the store a few weeks ago with another man.

 At one point, Ivans saw the friend slip something into his pocket… it was Ivans’ phone. 

”He hands it out to me, and he’s like, ‘So there are no problems? I’m going to give this back to you.’ And I was like ‘Yeah that’s fine, there are no problems.” 
As the men left the store, Ivans says the alarm went off, so she knew they took something else. 

A week later, the primary suspect came back, saying his friend stole a necklace and that they would return it.
 That didn’t happen, and when the primary suspect came back again two days ago, he was told to leave.

Ivans thinks the driver of the getaway car in Wednesday’s theft was likely the man who stole her phone a few weeks ago.
  “I hope if they have mental health issues or drug issues, that they get help,” she said. “Life’s hard, and it’s not right for them to think that they can do this and try to get away with it. “

Employees believe the main suspect also took the necklace a few weeks ago, despite saying his friend did it.

Visalia Police detectives are investigating the case.   [Source: ABC30 Action News]

Retailer’s new policy to prevent theft

The Walmart at Pawnee and Broadway in Wichita is a busy place. But at the entrance, a new sign is stopping some customers in their tracks. It says the store “will no longer allow backpacks or oversized bags inside.” Instead, shoppers are required to leave their large handbags or purses in one of Walmart’s secured lockers. Customer Cherie Shields couldn’t believe it. She contacted KAKE News about her recent visit to Walmart and says as soon as she went inside, she was told if she wanted to shop, she would first need to put her purse in the locker. “To keep people from stealing stuff,” one of Walmart’s employees explained.

While KAKE News didn’t see anyone being stopped, employees were overheard talking about the policy. “It’s more of a precaution for us. I’m just going to say it’s a waste of money right now,” said one employee. A media relations employee with Walmart says the practice isn’t entirely new. “Walmart takes thefts very seriously and the new locker system implemented at this location on Monday is just an added measure to take care of that as best we can,” said Payton McCormick, National Media Relations Manager with Walmart.

Theft at this Walmart has been a problem. According to police, the store averages close to 300 shoplifting calls each year. Walmart says the locker system has been used in some of its other stores. McCormick said other Walmart’s in Wichita have implemented the policy but is leaving the choice up to management.   [Source: KAKE News]

Teacher fired after being caught shoplifting twice

A Woodbridge, New Jersey, teacher who was busted twice in a 13-month period with shoplifting, which resulted in a social media stir, has lost a legal fight to win back her job. Michele Schwab was fired from her $97,156 teaching position in 2016 after being caught on camera stealing a one-of-a-kind $60 picture frame from the Song of the Sea store in Beach Haven in March 2016. The Long Beach Island store, nearly 90 miles away from this district, shared surveillance images on Facebook. A video of the theft posted on the site racked up more than 40,000 views, including at least one of her fourth-grade students and a fellow teacher, district officials said.

Schwab blew the second chance that the district superintendent had afforded her after she had been arrested for shoplifting a hat and hoodie from the Sears at Woodbridge Center in February 2015. Even though she admitted to store loss prevention that she had taken the items out of the store without paying, the charge was dropped after the LP associate failed to show up in Municipal Court. Schools Superintendent Robert Zega said he hoped it would be a “one-time incident” and took her off paid suspension. But Schwab turned out to be a repeat offender. After she pleaded guilty in March 2016 as a part of the Municipal Court’s conditional dismissal program, Zega and the Board of Education filed tenure charges against Schwab in order to fire her. An arbitrator in January 2017 upheld the charges of conduct unbecoming and agreed that she should be terminated.   [Source: New Jersey 101.5 News]

Topless shoplifting suspect flees store; eludes deputies

Oconee County Georgia sheriff’s deputies searched for a topless shoplifting suspect Thursday, but she avoided capture. “The only description we had is she was topless. If she was in the area, we would have found her,” Sheriff Scott Berry said. The white female, who was in her early 20s, was inside Walmart on Epps Bridge Parkway, when a loss prevention associate watched as she pulled off her shirt and bra in the women’s section. She put on a new shirt and pulled some new shorts over the shorts she was wearing, according to the report. As she was leaving, she was confronted and during a struggle, she pulled off her shirt, kicked off her sandals, and fled barefoot and topless in the direction of the nearby Kohl’s store, deputies said. When last seen, she was still wearing the store’s shorts valued at $14.     [Source: Athens Banner-Herald

Stay Updated

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