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Breaking News in the Industry: March 11, 2019

Suspect  ‘had a lot on his mind’ when he shoplifted

A Myrtle Beach man in South Carolina told police he “had a lot on his mind” when he attempted to steal multiple items from the Walmart early Saturday morning, according to an arrest report.

At approximately 4:40 a.m., police responded to Walmart in reference to a shoplifting in progress, the report states. Police arrived and met with the loss prevention team before successfully locating the suspect via surveillance, which showed the man concealing several items under his clothing before approaching the exit.

When the man made it to the breezeway, police confronted him and asked him to come to the LP office, to which he complied, then report states. Officers asked the man what he was putting into his pants and jacket, and the suspect immediately began pulling items from his person while admitted to attempting to steal them because he “had a lot on his mind.” There were 14 total items, with all listed as clothes/furs and weapons/other, listed on the police report.   [Source: Myrtle Beach Online]

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Cashier scams store to steal more than $2,000

A 20-year-old clerk at a Dollar General store in Fruitland Park, Florida, has been arrested after allegedly stealing more than $2,000 from her employer.  Shatina Darlene McMullen, of Leesburg, was arrested Wednesday on warrants charging her with grand theft and fraud. She had been caught on surveillance video on Dec. 15 repeatedly scanning manufacturers’ coupons to “run up” values that were then transferred to Visa gift cards.

She told the shift manager that there was a problem with the system and requested the ability to override the system. The loss of revenue to the store was $2,762. McMullen was booked at the Lake County Jail and released after posting $4,000 bond.    [Source: Villages-News]

‘Los Angeles is ground zero’ for ORC

California is always a top destination for tourists, but now another group is flocking to the Golden State and they’re not bringing their hard-earned money – they’re taking ours. Organized retail crime is big business for thieves. It’s a $30-billion problem nationwide, and the National Retail Federation says that Los Angeles is ground zero. It’s so big that retailers and law enforcement say crooks are even flying in to California. That may be in part to take advantage of what some experts say are lax penalties.

The LAPD says in the last month or two, the area has been targeted by a group of four suspects who focus on high-end fragrances at Sephora stores in Los Angeles and Orange counties, and investigators say that’s just a drop in the bucket. Last year, Saks Fifth Avenue in Beverly Hills was hit, with the window completely removed. Jewelry cases were smashed and mannequins were found on the street. In January, thieves boldly hit the historic Biltmore Hotel downtown, injuring a clerk. Back in December, it took just minutes for 10 men to make off with thousands of dollars of merchandise from a store in Beverly Grove.

So when did Southern California become a free-for-all? Police and retailers point to Proposition 47, which made more crimes into misdemeanors. They say career criminals capitalize on it. “It’s a little bit discouraging at times. At times you feel like you’re just running after the same crews over and over again because there is no real punishment,” said Elena del Valle, with Home Depot investigations. But retailers are banding together with law enforcement and fighting back.

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One new tool is Assembly Bill 1065. Organized retail theft will now carry stiffer penalties and that may help shift the balance of power. The law took effect Jan. 1. The public can also help, too. The LAPD says tips from the public have helped detectives identify two members of the four-person crew stealing fragrances.   [Source: ABC7 Eyewitness News]

Trio of shoe bandits behind bars

In Tennessee, the Hendersonville Police Department were looking for 25-year-old Justin Dunn, 22-year-old Threishaun Wade-Burnett and 21-year-old Orlexus Elliott. Police said the suspects stole multiple pairs of shoes from Off Broadway Shoes just before 4 p.m. on January 4. According to investigators, the suspects drove off in a dark gray Toyota Camry. The vehicle had a temporary tag. All three suspects have active warrants for theft over $1,000.

As of Saturday, sll three suspects are now behind bars.  Threishaun Wade-Burnett is charged with theft over $1,000. He is being held in the Sumner County Jail on $5,000 bond. Investigators arrested 25-year-old Justin Dunn on Wednesday, February 13. His court date and bond information are not available. On Saturday, investigators arrested Orlexus Elliott. Her court date and bond information were also not available.   [Source: WSMV News4]

Do you really have to show your receipt at the door?

It’s something most people comply with, but maybe you’ve seen someone (or you’ve done it yourself) get into an argument about whether they really do have to show their receipt on their way out of the store.  The Verify team met with a criminal law expert at Thomas M. Cooley Law School to help settle this once and for all. “In public stores, as a general rule, you can refuse to show your receipt,” said Tonya Krause-Phelan, a criminal law professor, but there’s a flip side to that rule.

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“The flip side is if the store has reason to believe that you may have stolen something, or are about to steal something, they actually can detain you until law enforcement arrives,” Krause-Phelan said. This is what’s called the Shopkeepers Privilege, which is a really old rule most states have adopted into law. “The shopkeeper, if they were suspicious to begin with, are going to become even more suspicious if you don’t stop and show the receipt,” Krause-Phelan said. “But when we’re talking about a reasonable suspicion of shoplifting, or even probable cause, the store has to have facts.”

Facts, meaning a loss prevention professional might think you switched a price tag, maybe saw you hide a small item in a larger one, or think they saw you put something in your pocket. “They’d have to have some other fact that they saw in addition to you not showing your receipt that would allow them to say, ‘hey we think they’re actually shoplifting,’ and justify detaining you,” Krause-Phelan said. Basically, the store does have the legal right to ask, but refusing to show your receipt alone is not enough to detain you.

It’s also important to note this applies to places where you do not have a membership. “Stores where there is a club membership, and you sign some paperwork as part of that membership, often times that paperwork has a provision in there that you agree to show your receipt every time you exit the store,” Krause-Phelan said.   [Source: ABC13 News]

Location tracking technology for retailers

Location-tracking technology can now monitor people so precisely that retailers know, for instance, which customers visited a fitting room but never made it to the cash register. From there, retailers can serve custom ads on platforms like WeChat, Facebook and Google. Cosmose is one start-up using location-based tracking to help retail firms do just that.

Tracking takes place through apps for which users have enabled location services (think weather, mapping, or ride-sharing apps). Seven apps have location tracking enabled on an average smartphone in China, according to Cosmose. The company said it’s tracked more than 1 billion smartphones, primarily in China, across 100,000 stores it works with. Its clients include Burberry, L’Oreal, Subway and Budweiser. Cosmose said it plans to expand its reach into the United States.

In a US focused report, The New York Times recently found that more than 75 companies are receiving anonymous location data, and some claim to track up to 200 million devices in the US. Cosmose said its technology is so precise that it can track a customer within a six-foot radius.”We can tell that someone was trying the makeup, someone was trying fragrance,” Miron Mironiuk, Cosmose’s founder and CEO, told CNBC inside an Armani store in Hong Kong.

Sales of location-targeted advertising could reach $21 billion this year, but some say it raises new questions about privacy. Customers, however, are increasingly trading privacy in favor of convenience, in what Mark Lunt, group managing director of technology solutions firm JOS, called “privacy fatigue.” “You just think, well, ‘they probably know it all already’ — so off we go,” he said. Mironiuk, meanwhile, emphasized that Cosmose doesn’t collect any personal data in the process. “For sure, this new technology will create new questions, but I can assure you that we respect privacy,” he said.   [Source: CNBC News]

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