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Breaking News in the Industry: March 28, 2018

Shoplifting suspect dies after chase, wrecks

A shoplifting suspect has died after a wreck following a chase by a South Carolina sheriff’s deputy. Highway Patrol Cpl. Bill Rhyne told news outlets the wreck happened around noon Monday on Interstate 20 in Richland County. Investigators say the front-seat passenger in a pickup truck that ran from a sheriff’s deputy died after the driver crashed into a fence, sending one of the fence posts through the windshield. Rhyne said the man was taken to a hospital where he died. His name wasn’t immediately released. The pickup driver, Calvin Garrett Liabastre, has been charged with felony driving under the influence involving death. It was not known if he has an attorney. The chase came after employees at a home improvement store saw the suspects trying to steal. [Source: Fox News]

Loss prevention supervisor charged with theft

A woman has been charged with stealing more than $55,000 from the Groton, Connecticut store where she oversaw loss prevention. The Norwich Bulletin reports that 37-year-old Janise Gabco-Bowles is charged with theft from the Kohl’s in Groton where she worked as a loss prevention supervisor. Police say she made fraudulent returns and received cash in exchange for items she had never purchased. Investigators say surveillance video of the returns was missing and someone in the loss prevention office likely disabled the system. Gabco-Bowles was fired from the store in December and arrested in January. She is separately charged with shoplifting from grocery store on Christmas Eve. [Source: Bristol Herald Courier]

Suspects smash car through doors of store, take off with merchandise

Police are searching for a group of suspects who smashed a car into the front of Saks Fifth Avenue, then took off with as much merchandise as they could carry. The broken gates and wooden boards mark the spot where police say the group of robbers smashed a car into the Saks at the Fashion Mall in Indianapolis, Indiana. “After 3 a.m. a rental car from out of state was driven through the east doors of the Saks,” said IMPD North District Commander Josh Barker. At least six people then ran into the store, wearing hoods to cover their faces. Police say each one grabbed as much merchandise as they could carry. A security guard who heard the car smash through the glass ran over to stop them. “The suspects were alerted to his presence which interrupted the theft and they fled pretty quickly. One of the suspects tackled the security guard,” said Commander Barker. Police say the thieves had so much stuff they dropped several items on their way out.

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The group then took off in other cars waiting in the parking lot including a red SUV and a white car. Police believe this group may be connected to other similar retail thefts. “It is not uncommon for there to be a somewhat organized retail theft ring that operates in a multi-state area not just multi-jurisdictional,” said Commander Barker. In just the past year, IMPD reports show they have responded to the Fashion Mall around 100 times for a range of theft, robbery, burglary, and larceny cases. Over at Castleton Square Mall, also a Simon Property, IMPD reports they have responded to triple that amount. One of those cases was back in February when suspects smashed jewelry cases and took off with more than $100,000 in merchandise. As for how much these thieves stole… “They are still going through the inventory to do a count of what they have and what is missing and they will provide us a total for the loss,” said Commander Barker. If you have information on this smash and grab case, call IMPD or Crime Stoppers at 262-TIPS.  [Source: CBS4Indy]

Cops think they rehearsed this burglary caught on tape; Have you seen these suspects? [Viral Video]

Sheriff’s deputies in Pierce County, Washington, want help identifying a man and woman believed to be involved in the theft of a $1,900 gaming system from a Walmart. The man is suspected of placing a computer gaming system and monitor in a shopping cart and then pushing the cart out of the store shortly before midnight on Feb. 21, according to a post on the Sheriff’s department’s Facebook page. Surveillance cameras captured video of the man and woman entering the Mountain Highway store and then the man leaving minutes later with a cart full of loot. The man loaded the stolen merchandise into a maroon SUV driven by the woman, police said. The man, wearing a black coat and Chicago Bulls cap, can then be seen entered the store again before fleeing the scene in the SUV. “She takes off and (the) suspect walks back in the store, empty-handed, probably trying to determine if anybody’s coming after him, or not, or to run interference,” Pierce County Sheriff’s Detective Ed Troyer told Q13-TV. “These are definitely (people who have) rehearsed this and (are) out committing retail theft. We want to get them caught before more people become victims.” Those with information about the suspects are asked to call 800-222-8477.  [Source: The News Tribune]

Man sent to prison for using credit card ‘skimmers’

Juan Quintero Garcia served 5½ months in a Tennessee jail in 2016 for illegally using credit card “skimming” devices at gas stations.What did Garcia do after his release? Reconnect with his old accomplice, drive to Chesapeake and start doing it all over again. Garcia, 31, of Miami, was sentenced Monday in federal court in Norfolk, Virginia, to four years and four months in prison. His 28-year-old accomplice, Omar Machado Blanco of Miami, was sentenced earlier this month to four years and nine months. Chesapeake police started investigating in March 2017 after receiving more complaints than usual about unauthorized credit card use, according to court documents. Police said surveillance videos and citizen tips helped detectives tie the trend to skimming devices installed at gas stations by Garcia and Blanco. When placed on a gas pump or other credit card terminal, such devices capture the card numbers of unsuspecting shoppers. Both men were arrested April 21. When Blanco was taken into custody, court documents say, police found a skimming device holding about a dozen account numbers, along with multiple cards whose magnetic stripes had been re-coded with stolen account information. Blanco also had “two small keys capable of unlocking gas pumps at 7-11 gas stations throughout Chesapeake,” the documents say. Investigators identified 43 victims who suffered a combined loss of $7,105.70, the documents say.

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Garcia and Blanco pleaded guilty last year in U.S. District Court to aggravated identity theft. Garcia also pleaded guilty to illegal possession of credit card making equipment and Blanco pleaded guilty to wire fraud. Assistant U.S. Attorney Daniel Young argued for both men to receive sentences of 4½ years, and he noted how quickly Garcia returned to crime after his release from jail. Blanco was never charged in Tennessee, but court documents say Garcia told authorities the two had both installed skimmers in that state. Garcia’s Virginia lawyer, Assistant Public Defender Amanda Conner, said he was an immigrant who fled Cuba in 2005, shortly before his 18th birthday, and was granted lawful permanent resident status. She said a federal conviction could lead to his deportation, even though the Cuban government had notified him he could face the death penalty upon his return because he didn’t serve in the military. “The fear of returning to this oppressive regime weighs heavily on his mind and is a motivating factor for him to put any and all criminal involvement behind him,” Conner wrote, asking for a sentence of two years and three months. U.S. District Judge Raymond Jackson said Garcia and Blanco, who had a longer criminal record, deserved similar sentences for their apparent “tour of the East Coast doing crimes.”  “You surely knew what you were doing was wrong,” the judge told Garcia.  [Source: The Virginian-Pilot]

Retail fraud suspect arraigned after chase from retailer

Green Oak Township police arrested a 23-year-old Detroit woman they said led officers on a chase that started at a Kohl’s store parking lot and ended with a crash on on M-14 near Plymouth. The suspect, Lamika Samon James, was arraigned on felony charges of fleeing and eluding, organized retail crime and retail fraud, Livingston County Prosecutor William Vailliencourt said in an email Monday. Each charge has a maximum five-year sentence. She was also arraigned on misdemeanor charges of driving on a suspended license and providing false identification to a police officer. Police responded to a report of a retail fraud in progress around 2:44 p.m. Thursday, according to a press release from Green Oak Township police. Prior to their arrival, officers were informed the suspect was fleeing in a gray Chevrolet Impala. Officers saw the vehicle exit the parking lot and head north on Whitmore Lake Road and then southbound on U.S. 23. The vehicle continued eastbound M-14 until crashing just west of Interstate 275 near Sheldon Road, according to the release. No other vehicles were involved in the crash. The suspect was treated for what police said were minor injuries at St. Mary Mercy Hospital in Livonia before going to Livingston County Jail. The press release said the suspect had been in the store “removing security devices from numerous high end electronics and placing them into a bag.” Police said the woman told arresting officers she was a 16-year-old juvenile. Her mother, who arrived at the hospital where the woman was treated after the crash, also told police she was a juvenile, the release said. Police say the suspect is a 23-year-old and also is a Michigan Department of Corrections parole absconder who has been sought since December 2017. Bond was set at $10,000. [Source: Livingston Daily]

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