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Breaking News in the Industry: May 10, 2018

Police seek woman accused of stealing $10K in items from lingerie store

Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, police are asking for the public’s help in locating a shoplifting suspect. According to a wanted flyer from the Myrtle Beach Police Department, Latonya Ashantia Moses is accused of stealing over $10,000 worth of items. An MBPD incident report states the theft happened on March 13 at the Victoria’s Secret store in the Coastal Grand Mall. An employee said roughly 10 people came in and started loading up bags with merchandise and laughing. The employee told police a guy who was with the group dropped his keys and a customer handed them to the worker. According to the report, the employee told police the suspect said “If you don’t give me back my keys, I will punch you in the (expletive) face.” The man got his keys and was reportedly the first to walk out of the store. Moses is the only suspect whose name is listed on the incident report. Anyone with information is asked to call the MBPD at 843.918.1382.   [Source: WMBF News]

Husband and wife thieves busted

Perhaps it’s the ever-increasing paperwork load faced by today’s doctors or the difficulty in dealing with medial insurance providers that could possibly drive a practicing physician into the world of criminal conspiracy and grand theft. Or maybe it’s just that stealing stuff from retail chain stores just provides enough of a thrill to bring a little excitement back into a sluggish marriage. Whatever the motivation, the April 26th arrests of Thousand Oaks, California, residents 43-year-old Elizabeth Hooper, M.D. and her 52-year-old musician husband David Hooper is a clear indication that a proclivity for criminal behavior is no respecter of educational level or professional position within the community. According to Ventura County Sheriff’s Department spokesman Sgt. Robert Davidson, the married couple was arrested pursuant to an ongoing investigation into several theft reports from asset protection personnel at “various Target department stores.” Investigation into these inventory losses pointed to “organized retail theft” taking place since January 2018, wherein Mr. & Mrs. Hooper worked together “by fraudulently manufacturing bar codes and affixing them to items of greater value” and then using Target Stores’ self-checkout facilities “to surreptitiously pay for the items with the fraudulent bar codes.”

Their tactic worked well enough to allow the Hoopers to remove more than $2300 of merchandise from Target stores in Thousand Oaks, Westlake Village, and Woodland Hills. Once the Hoopers were identified, on April 26th detectives arrived at the Hooper home with search warrant in hand, whereupon they “located evidence of the fraudulent bar code manufacturing as well as several items of stolen merchandise.” Dr. Hooper, a practicing pediatrician in the local community, was taken into custody at that time and transported to Ventura County Jail. It apparently took four more days for her husband to realize that the jig was truly up, and he arrived at the Thousand Oaks Police Department on April 30th to meet with detectives “regarding the investigation.” He was soon in custody and transported to Ventura County Jail. Both Hoopers were booked on charges of Grand Theft and Criminal Conspiracy, with their bail set at $20,000 each.   [Source: Crime Voice]

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Employee says she stole $25,000 in fine china to pay her bills

An employee at the Belk store at SouthPark mall in south Charlotte, North Carolina, is accused of stealing $25,000 worth of fine china and silverware, and then selling at least half of the merchandise on eBay. Diana Ruth Ades, 55, of Charlotte, was charged with felony larceny by employee and freed on $1,000 bail on Friday, Mecklenburg County jail records show. Ades told police she used the proceeds to pay medical bills, according to an arrest warrant affidavit. According to an affidavit of indigency she filed after her arrest, Ades said she has $20,000 in medical-related debts. A Belk loss prevention associate discovered the merchandise missing during an inventory audit over the past few months, according to the arrest warrant affidavit. A Fitbit calorie-checking device also was stolen, police said. The LP associate decided to do a random bags check on Ades, who was in charge of the china department, the affidavit said. The officer conducted the checks three times in March and each time found china in Ades’ bags, according to the affidavit. Ades returned about $9,500 of the merchandise, police said. She sold nearly $14,800 of the merchandise on eBay, “which has been listed as unrecovered at this time,” the affidavit said.   [Source: The Charlotte Observer]

Teens ring up big shoplifting bill at grocery store

Police say three Connecticut teens were caught trying to steal more than $600 worth of food and electronics from a grocery store this week. Sgt. Robert Shawinsky said Stop & Shop employees at the Ridgeway Shopping Center about 8:30 p.m. called police Monday. Shawinsky said officers went to the security office where they watched video of the teens putting items into their cart. The teens were stopped after they pushed the cart out of the store without paying, Shawinsky said. Shawinsky said the items included several packages of ear buds, candy bars, frozen pizza, pies, ice cream, iced tea, spicy crab rolls, frozen waffles, doughnuts, corn bread, bagels and a dozen roses that totaled $611.83. Ja’David James, 18, of Schuyler Avenue, Shaun Williams, 18, of Beachview Drive, and a 17-year-old were charged with fifth-degree larceny and conspiracy to commit larceny.   [Source: Stamford Advocate]

Police charge 2 in shoplifting scheme

Two people were arrested Wednesday in connection with a shoplifting scheme at a Connecticut Kohl’s, police said. Police charged Chaquana Wooding, 26, of 33 Goslee Drive, Manchester, with sixth-degree larceny and conspiracy to commit the crime, and illegally operating a motor vehicle with a suspended license. Police charged Kevin Fisher, of 30 High Court, East Hartford, with first-degree forgery, illegal possession of a shoplifting device, sixth-degree larceny, and conspiracy to commit that crime. Police Chief Alaric Fox said Wooding was released on a $5,000 bond and is scheduled to appear in Superior Court on May 15. According to the court clerk’s office, Fisher appeared in court Thursday and is being held in lieu of a $10,000 bond. According to the state Department of Correction’s website, Fisher is being held in pretrial detention at the Hartford Correctional Center. Fox said police responded to the shoplifting complaint at Kohl’s on Wednesday afternoon. Wooding was spotted by the store’s loss prevention associate filling a shopping cart with shoes and other merchandise, then leaving the store without taking anything the chief said.

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Once Wooding left, the LP associate saw Fisher enter the store with a large bag and head to the shopping cart Wooding had just filled with merchandise, Fox said. He then proceeded to put that merchandise in his bag and walked out of the store without paying for the items, Fox said. The store manager and another employee confronted Fisher outside as police arrived, and with the assistance of police, he was escorted back into the store, Fox said. Wooding, along with a second woman, drove away from the parking lot and was stopped by police, Fox said. Wooding was detained but the other woman she was with was not charged with a crime, he said. Upon inspection, police discovered that Fisher had lined his shopping bag with aluminum foil so that the alarms at the Kohl’s exit wouldn’t be triggered when he left with the stolen merchandise, the police chief said. About $482 in stolen merchandise was recovered as well as a counterfeit $100 bill in Fisher’s possession, Fox said. Fisher told police that the $100 bill was “Hollywood” money and that he didn’t intend on using it, Fox said.   [Source: Journal Inquirer]

Firefighter loses $79K job over $7.98 shoplift conviction

A South Jersey firefighter who was fired for a shoplifting misdemeanor has lost his latest effort to save his career. An appellate decision this week comes more than seven months after Ashton G. Funk, 34, of Northfield, was charged with stealing sunflower seeds, a breakfast sandwich, Gatorade and coffee. The total cost was $7.98. The county prosecutor handled the trial because it involved a public employee, even though Funk was not on duty. After his conviction, Municipal Court Judge H. Robert Switzer stripped Funk of his jobs with the Margate Fire Department and Beach Patrol. Funk appealed to a Superior Court judge and lost, with the most recent decision ruling on his appeal of that denial. Funk was charged after Lt. Joseph Baumgardner of the Longport Police Department reported seeing the shoplifting, according to the most recent decision. Baumgardner said he goes to the Margate Wawa every morning and saw Funk at the store, recognizing him from his work with the local fire department. Baumgardner said as he was waiting to pay for his own items he saw Funk leave the store without paying. The officer testified in court that he confronted Funk in his car and asked how he had left before him. Funk told him that “[the] guy in line let me in front of him,” according to the decision.

Funk told Sgt. Jason Kangas from the Prosecutor’s Office that someone had offered to buy the items for him, but a review of the store’s surveillance video did not back up that claim. A shift manager told Kangas that he recognized Funk as a regular customer but said that if someone wanted to pay for someone else “[t]hey would have to physically bring the items up” to have them scanned. Funk had been a city firefighter since 2011 and on the beach patrol for 19 years, both positions that are “held in high esteem,” the prosecutor said in the application to take away his job for the relatively minor offense. The prosecutor also noted that Funk “committed the offense minutes before his shift at the fire station was to begin,” and “was wearing part of his firefighter uniform.” The panel said the prosecutor “was mindful of the claimed hardships that will be attendant with the loss of the public employment,” but said “such hardships [were] not undue under the circumstances.” In his appeal, Funk challenged the credibility of two of the witnesses and the trial judge’s finding that he was not a regular customer, among other arguments. The panel disagreed and affirmed the judge’s “well-reasoned and cogent opinions.”    [Source: NJ101.5 News]

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