Breaking News in the Industry: March 8, 2019

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‘Freaky fast’ employee payroll scams $66, 000

A Tallahassee Jimmy Johns employee is being accused of knowingly pocketing an extra $66,118 in income while working at the Gaines Street sub shop. Taylor E. Whiddon, 25, was arrested Friday and booked into the Leon County Detention Facility on charges of grand theft of more than $20,000. He was released the same day on $2,500 bail.

Whiddon was hired in August as a manager in training at a salary of $550 a week, but he was later demoted to a regular employee. However, he continued to clock in under “person in charge” and the system paid him $550 an hour. Checks as high as $15,673 were discovered, according to court records, but he never disclosed the over payment. In the seven months he worked at the shop, Whiddon took home $68,869, more than five times the federal individual poverty level of $12,140.

The manager of the store agreed not to press criminal charges if Whiddon paid half of the money back. When questioned, however, he said he had already spent the money and was unable to make payments. Tallahassee Police officers allowed Whiddon to call his mother from the back of their cruiser. He told her he’d spent the money on car payments, rent, guitars and amps which she rebuffed saying she paid his car note. “When his mother asked why he didn’t say anything,” officers wrote in their report, “He replied that he was ‘stupid.”’   [Source: Tallahassee Democrat]

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Video shows $100,000 jewelry heist

Surveillance cameras were rolling inside the Kmart in Seven Hills, Ohio, as a thief managed to steal over $100,000 worth of jewelry from the store. “Our officers received a call Thursday morning, just after 12:00 a.m. for glass breaking and motion detection inside the Kmart,” said Chief Michael Salloum with the Seven Hills Police Department. When officers arrived, they discovered the glass door of the garden area was shattered.

“After making entry and clearing the building, they came upon six jewelry cases where the glass was busted open and the jewelry was removed,” said Salloum. Surveillance cameras show the thief clearing out all the cases in under four minutes. According to the police report, Kmart had just gotten a new shipment of jewelry for liquidation.“Kmart put a retail value on the merchandise at $100,000,” said Salloum. Officers were unable to lift any prints from the cases.

Police say burglary happened just 20 minutes after store employees locked up for the night. “Our officers did an initial investigation and the follow up investigation showed that it was possible that someone was inside the store after the store closed. As a result, that tripped the motion alarm and tripped the alarm for the glass breaking,” said Salloum. Kmart, which closes March 10, had no comment. (The video is hosted on the source website.)   [Source: Fox8 Cleveland]

C-Stores: Consider loss differently

Kum & Go is taking a new approach to c-store loss prevention in 2019, starting on the ‘TRL path.’ The Retail Industry Leaders Association (RILA) introduced TRL (Total Retail Loss), designed to encourage businesses to consider loss differently, a couple years ago. “Specifically, it provides a much better way to define and measure loss of all kinds by providing a typology consisting of 33 different categories that cross the entire spectrum of retail theft and fraud,” said Britt Davidson, manager of loss prevention for Kum & Go, which operates more than 400 stores in 11 states. The chain aspires to obtain more accurate control data.

“This will start at a very high level by identifying major areas/sources of loss and then breaking each one down to very granular buckets,” Davidson said. “By using the TRL typology, we will be able to better create efficiencies in our roles as well as know where our control and business opportunities lie.”

“The introduction of worker’s comp, food safety and internal audit functions will allow our team to become better partners with the business while driving down losses and reducing risk,” Davidson added. Last year Kum & Go began its foray into the basics of camera analytics. “This year we want to jump into the analytics pond and begin to leverage this technology outside of traditional loss prevention functions. We are excited to see how this technology can provide us with better insight into our daily trends.”   [Source: Convenience Store Decisions]

Gold card rapper charged with credit card fraud

A Detroit rapper who wears a jewel-encrusted gold credit card around his neck in rap videos and calls himself the greatest “swiper” of all time faces several credit card theft charges. Jonathan Woods, aka “Selfmade Kash” was charged with wire fraud, aggravated identity theft and possession of unauthorized access devices.

Authorities said the 25-year-old Detroit man frequently posted pictures and videos on social media with large amounts of cash, credit cards and credit card skimmers to promote his proclivity for credit card fraud. The rapper had more than 36,000 followers on Instagram. He often used emojis of credit cards, and “GOAT” to represent “the greatest of all time” and hashtags such as #bins #bitcoins #ScamLikely and #dumpswithpin.

Woods would then sell his information on how to commit credit card fraud on the dark web to people who contacted him on social media. “Jonathan Woods claimed to be sophisticated at credit card fraud when, in fact, he is not,” prosecutors wrote in an indictment unsealed in federal court Thursday. Woods is facing up to 20 years in federal prison if convicted.   [Source: ABC7 WXYZ Detroit]

LP associate chased and pepper-sprayed

A Washington woman with a history of repeatedly shoplifting at a Lake City Fred Meyer chased a loss prevention associate (LPA) through the store while pepper spraying him after she was caught with stolen property, Seattle police say. Rainy Kathryn Griffin, 51, has been charged with second-degree robbery in the incident. Police say much of the attack was recorded by surveillance cameras. According to the loss prevention associate who was the victim, Griffin has been involved in 37 incidents at the store since 2015, according to a preliminary list.

On Feb. 22, Griffin, who was well known to the victim, was seen putting numerous items into a bag and then walking out of the store without paying, police documents say. The LPA then approached Griffin and asked her return to the store to discuss unpaid merchandise she had in the bag.  She refused but agreed to give him the bag of unpaid merchandise.  She then demanded the bag back, saying her phone was in it. When the LP associate said she could access the bag after police arrived, she began threatening to pepper spray him if he didn’t give it back. When the LP associate tried to walk back inside, she pepper-sprayed him while struggling to take the bag back, police say.

As the LPA tried to get away from Griffin, she followed him through the store, screaming, knocking merchandise over and repeatedly pepper-spraying him, with many of the sprays hitting him in the face and head, a Seattle police investigation report said. Griffin was not located that night but was arrested by Seattle police on Feb. 26 in an unrelated burglary. Prosecutors asked that Griffin be held on $100,000 bail because of the violent nature of the robbery, her criminal history, and 36 warrants for failing to appear in court. Her criminal history includes convictions for assault, criminal trespass, theft, DUI and others.   [Source: KIRO7 News]

ORC bill put on hold

The Florida Senate Appropriations Committee on Thursday postponed consideration of a criminal justice bill that would increase the threshold amount for felony theft charges amid ongoing concerns about a retail organized-crime provision. Committee Chairman Rob Bradley, R-Fleming Island, said many ideas in the bill (SPB 7072) should be discussed before it is taken up for debate.”What we are looking to do is combine them with some other ideas percolating through other committees,” Bradley said. “We are taking a pause to take a look at the whole picture and look at the ideas that make sense.”

One of the points of contention is a provision that would set a dollar value for determining whether retail theft is a second- or third-degree felony. The Florida Retail Federation, which represents hundreds of retail stores in the state, is seeking to strengthen punishment for organized retail crime.The current proposal would increase the property-value threshold of a third-degree felony retail theft from $300 or more to $700 or more. It would also require that multiple acts of retail theft that occur within a three-month period be aggregated to determine the value of the stolen property. Jake Farmer, director of government affairs for the Retail Federation, said all members of his organization care about adding more teeth to organized retail-theft criminal laws.”We also care about making sure we are not increasing the threshold to an unreasonable amount and we support SB 7072,” Farmer said.   [Source: News4Jax]

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