Breaking News in the Industry: June 9, 2017

Close up of a business mans hand hiding money in his suit jacket pocket.

Sprint employee accused of making fake accounts, stealing $40K+ in merchandise

YAKIMA COUNTY, Wash. — A man is facing felony theft and forgery charges in Yakima County, Washington,after court papers said he created fraudulent accounts at a Sprint Wireless store in Yakima and stole more than $40,000 in merchandise. James Carter Jones, 26, faces a first-degree theft charge and 11 counts of forgery. Court papers said he was an employee at Sprint Wireless on Summitview Avenue for two months last fall when he opened several fake accounts and bought phones, chargers, and accessories. Court papers said a Sprint Wireless investigator discovered an employee at Arch Telecom in Richland helped Jones create the fake accounts at the Richland store. Jones was released from custody on the pretrial release program and will be back in court later this month.  [For more: KIMATV News]

Georgia police continue to dismantle major shoplifting ring that targeted area retailers

On Wednesday, police disclosed they had arrested two more suspected ring members at Georgia Square Mall on May 23, three months after they caught the first suspects stealing dozens of boxes of laundry detergent from Kroger in north Athens, Georgia. According to police, at least one suspect confessed to thefts from that Kroger, as well as from other stores in Athens and elsewhere, including Oconee, Hall and Gwinnett counties. A “much larger” theft ring to which the suspect allegedly belonged specialized in selling stolen detergent and other laundry products, but was also known to target vacuum cleaners and other merchandise. That suspect, 21-year-old Herring Street resident Quintavious Lamor Johnson, was taken into custody in February on felony warrants charging him with theft by shoplifting at four different stores in Athens. Police said they believed Johnson was one of the people a seller at a local flea market, which they did not identify, recruited to steal items for resale at the market.

A report released by police at the time noted the theft of dozens of boxes of laundry detergent and body wash valued at nearly $700 from Kroger. The report documented the viewing by police of surveillance video that purports to show Johnson and a female accomplice in January loading up two shopping carts with merchandise, which they pushed out the exit without paying. Despite Johnson’s arrest, felony shoplifting cases continued to plague westside Athens retailers over the next few months. On May 21, police said day shift officers took a shoplifting report from Walmart in which suspects got away with merchandise valued at $2,000. Two days later, night-shift officers took another report documenting an attempt to steal items from Walmart valued at another $1,000, but the suspects were thwarted by employees, police said. “Officer Denmark along with our other officers put a lot of man hours into these cases, not just investigating these shopliftings, but going the extra mile in ensuring that the suspects responsible for these shopliftings were apprehended,” Rodriguez said. “This is the dedication and hard work we have come to expect from our men and women who serve the citizens of Athens-Clarke County.”  [For more: Athens Banner-Herald]

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Thieves steal 2 handbags worth $45,000 from California store

Smash and grab thieves targeted another Bay Area luxury store Wednesday after a pair of purses worth more than $45,000 were stolen from a Milpitas mall, according to authorities. The thieves entered the Neiman Marcus Last Call store at the Great Mall in Milpitas, California, to execute the high-end handbag heist. The suspects made their way towards a group of glass cases where the most expensive purses from manufacturers like Fendi and Prada are kept, locked up behind glass or tied down with metal cables. The scene was cleaned up by afternoon, but police said the two male African-American suspects smashed the glass case and took two handbags made by Hermes with a retail value of at least $20,000 each. It’s unclear exactly which bags were stolen, but according to the Hermes website, the bags advertised range from $20,000 to $27,000.

“It’s not surprising, considering there has been a lot of smash and grabs at this mall and a lot of robberies at this mall,” said mall employee Deena Salfiti. “So it’s not that surprising to me honestly.”  The Bay Area has seen a spate of smash and grab robberies over the past few months. In December, crooks used an SUV to ram the front of the Apple store in Palo Alto. 20 people converged on the store all at once, grabbing thousands of dollars of electronics in 45 seconds. Apple stores in San Francisco, Berkeley, Burlingame, Corte Madera and Los Gatos have all been hit. Also last fall, 16 members of the so-called Rainbow Girls were finally arrested in San Francisco after years of robberies where they would swarm into stores in large groups, grabbing merchandise and running off.   [For more: CBS SF Bay Area]

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Three suspects in Old Navy thefts admit to questioned transactions

Three of the eight women accused in a series of alleged thefts at Old Navy in Decatur, Georgia, signed written statements admitting they knew about the canceled transactions that led to theft charges, according to court records. An Old Navy employee who police said was aiding the women in the thefts, Cassandra Diane Garth 36,  signed a statement admitting to the unauthorized transactions after she was arrested March 20, according to a court affidavit prepared by Decatur police Detective T.D. Jones. More than $18,000 in merchandise was stolen from the store in The Crossings, according to police reports. Old Navy’s loss prevention associates reported the thefts March 16, police said. The thefts occurred between January and March, according to police. Garth, a production/price specialist manager, was an employee of Old Navy for nearly two years, according to Jones’ affidavit. She was charged with first-degree theft for allegedly voiding transactions and allowing customers to leave with the items after paying almost nothing for them, police said.

Crystal Nicole McDay, 35, and Sydney Paige Taylor, 25, Decatur, also signed statements admitting to taking the items without paying full price for them, according to a court affidavit prepared by Jones. Both women allegedly watched the cashier ring up the items they selected, then void the transaction, according to Jones’ affidavits. In both women’s cases, the cashier rung up a second transaction costing less than $10, which both women paid for with their bank cards, the affidavit claims. McDay admitted to knowing about the canceled transaction, and Taylor admitted to taking the merchandise, according to the affidavit. Court affidavits do not indicate the other five women admitted to knowing about the canceled transactions or taking merchandise from the store. Johnae Love, 23, was the final woman arrested for the thefts, police said. Love was arrested and charged with third-degree theft Thursday, police said. Love is accused of taking $668.93 in merchandise from the store March 13, according to Jones’ affidavit. Decatur police spokesman Sgt. Justin Lyon said no other merchants have reported any crimes involving those named in this case. “Employee thefts are common, but it’s not every day that you get a case where nearly $18,000 worth of stuff was stolen,” Lyon said.  [For more: Decatur Daily News]

Target testing next-day delivery for essentials

Target will be testing a next-day delivery service for a limited number of customers in its headquarters city of Minneapolis this summer, the company reports. The service, called Target Restock, will be open to customers in Minneapolis that currently have Target’s REDcard, the big-box retailer’s credit and debit card. Cardholders will have access to an exclusive website where they can order essentials, such as laundry detergent, and grocery dry goods, such as coffee. Instead of paying per item, customers will pay a flat fee for the items that fit in a shipping box. The company did not specify the fee or the size of the box in the release.

Orders will be fulfilled at Target retail stores, and customers who place their order before 1:30 p.m. will receive it by the next business day. Other brick-and-mortar retailers have launched free or reduced shipping programs and have made changes to their free shipping policies to compete against Amazon Prime. Earlier this year, Walmart announced it would end its subscription delivery service and instead lower its free shipping minimum purchase amount for all customers. Independent home improvement retailers are making strides in omni-channel solutions as well.  [For more: Hardware Retailing]

LP Worldwide: New retail crime specialist who targets shoplifters has arrested 16 people in the last month

A police officer who has started a new role as a retail crime specialist to combat shoplifting has arrested 16 people in the last month. PC James Brewer, who used to work on the local policing team in Southend, was tasked to tackle retail crime in the town on a three-month temporary basis in April. Since he began the role on April 12, he has arrested 16 people for 25 offenses, causing some shoplifters to be locked up and even banned from the High Street. In a total of 43 cases, there have been positive outcomes, including charges, cautions and community resolutions. One prolific shoplifter, who is currently banned from Sainsbury’s, in London Road and various High Street shops, was detained on May 5 following a £112 theft from The Range. She was interviewed and reported for the offense. Work is being done to prevent her from entering the High Street.

Sgt Ian Hughes, from the community policing team, said: “It was recognized that we had an increase in retail crime throughout the district and that multiple crimes committed by single individuals and the most effective way to deal with it was for one officer to maximize the opportunity to get positive outcomes. “So far, it is working really well and we are really pleased with what PC Brewer has achieved.” Dawn Jeakings, manager for the Royals Shopping Center, said: “Since his appointment, PC Brewer has made a big impact on reducing crime in the High Street. “His experience as a retail crime specialist and the initiatives he has introduced to combat issues such as theft and anti-social behavior are wholly supported by local businesses, not least the Royals. “We have assisted him in his endeavors to tackle problems like shoplifting by sharing intelligence, CCTV footage and asking our security team to liaise with James and his colleagues. These figures reflect that close and positive relationship.”  [For more: Southend Standard]

US Customs launches anti-counterfeiting campaign

US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) has launched a new campaign aimed at raising awareness of the dangers and negative impacts of purchasing counterfeit goods. The campaign, “The truth behind counterfeits” was announced yesterday and will run throughout July at six of the busiest US international airports. It’s designed to call international travelers’ attention to the impact of purchasing counterfeit goods, including the loss of US jobs and the support of criminal activity. Baltimore Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport; Chicago OHare International Airport; Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport; Los Angeles International Airport; New York John F. Kennedy International Airport; and Washington Dulles International Airport are the six airports named.

Brenda Smith, executive assistant commissioner for the office of trade at CBP, said: “CBP is committed to protecting consumers and enforcing US trade laws, and this campaign will help raise awareness and educate the traveling public about the dangers of purchasing counterfeit goods.” Counterfeit products pose criminal, financial, and consumer safety risks for the US and its citizens, according to CBP.   The fake goods may also create health and safety concerns for consumers, as they are “often made of inferior materials, manufactured under uncontrolled and unsanitary conditions and labeled with false information”, said the agency.  The US Chamber of Commerce welcomed the campaign.  [For more: World Intellectual Property Review]

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