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Breaking News in the Industry: May 19, 2017

Michigan man who used sledgehammer to “smash-and grab” jewelry gets 96 years

A Detroit man involved in the smash-and-grab robbery of a jewelry store at Park Meadows mall has been sentenced to 96 years in prison. Marquis DeShawn McDonald, 28, who is believed to have been the ringleader, and three others robbed a Ben Bridge Jeweler at the mall, breaking into the store in Lone Tree with sledgehammers. Douglas County District Judge David Stevens determined that McDonald is a habitual criminal and sentenced him to 96 years after a jury found him guilty of racketeering under the Colorado Organized Crime Control Act.

McDonald and three others entered the Park Meadows shopping center to case the Ben Bridge jewelry store Aug. 20, 2015. Two of the them entered the jewelry store about 7 p.m. with sledgehammers and destroyed a watch case, stealing or damaging 14 Rolex watches, worth more than $284,000.

They ran out of the store, but the accomplice and stolen getaway car they expected to find wasn’t where it was supposed to be. Passers-by and witnesses led law enforcement to the fleeing men, all four of whom were apprehended near the mall after the robbery. “McDonald and his accomplices came all the way from Michigan to target that store,” said deputy district attorney Valerie Brewster, who prosecuted the case. McDonald was sentenced after being found guilty of racketeering, theft; conspiracy to commit theft; criminal mischief; and aggravated motor vehicle theft.  [For more: The Denver Post]

California woman pleads guilty in international fraud case

A news release from the U.S. Attorney’s office states that the case started in 2014 when 16 individuals were arrested in South Africa, Canada, California, Wisconsin, New York and Indiana, pursuant to an eight-count federal indictment filed in the Southern District of Mississippi. Susan Ann Villeneuve, 61, of Escalon, California, entered guilty pleas on May 15 to conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud and aggravated identity theft. The case involved a West African transnational organized crime enterprise involved in numerous complex financial fraud schemes over the internet.

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The mass marketing fraud included romance scams, re-shipping scams, fraudulent check scams and work-at-home scams, along with bank, financial and credit card account take-overs. Investigators have identified hundreds of victims of this scam in the United States, resulting in the loss of millions of U.S. dollars. Villeneuve was responsible for sending out over $26,000,000 in counterfeit checks to victims across the country by USPS, UPS and FedEx. She will be sentenced on August 22, 2017 by U.S. District Judge Sul Ozerden in Gulfport, and faces a maximum penalty of five years in prison on the conspiracy charge and an additional two years in prison on the aggravated identity theft charge. The investigation was led by the DHS Gulfport office in partnership with the US Postal Inspection Service, South African Police Service, Toronto Police, DHS Cyber Crimes Center, Treasury Executive Office of Asset Forfeiture, DHS Ontario, DHS Charleston, Interpol South Africa, DHS Pretoria and DHS Atlanta.  [For more: The Clarion-Ledger]

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Employee assaulted during attempted shoplift

An unidentified woman in Tennessee went to the Goodwill store but didn’t show any when she attempted a theft and assaulted an employee at the nonprofit store Wednesday morning, according to Maryville Police reports. The reports said a white female entered the Goodwill store at 1703 E. Lamar Alexander Parkway between 9 a.m. and 10 a.m. Wednesday. A female employee, a 49-year-old Maryville woman, observed the suspect place several items of clothing in a black purse and leave without paying for them.

The employee confronted the suspect just outside the front door. The suspect began punching, scratching and pulling the employee’s hair, then pulled away and left in a vehicle. In the process, however, she left behind a skateboard as well as the black purse, stuffed with the merchandise she had tried to steal.Police found the employee sitting outside the store when they arrived. She had redness, swelling, blood and two long bloody marks around her left eye. She was taken to Blount Memorial Hospital for treatment.  [For more: The Daily Times]

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More than 100 credit card numbers seized, suspects arrested

Police identified the suspects as Michael Paul Burton, 32, of Azle; Kimberly Lindberg, 36, of Whitney; April Sue Riley, 35, of Irving; Juanita Marie Lowe, 25, of Jacksboro; and Jimmy Lee Swinney, 32, of Springtown. Officers began an investigation April 29, when an employee from Comfort Suites in Grapevine, Texas, called police to report people tried to pay with a credit card that had a fraud alert on it.  Authorities arrived at the Comfort Suites and arrested Lowe. A few minutes later, Swinney was taken into custody in a vehicle a few blocks from the hotel. Dispatchers began calling other hotels in the area and at Great Wolf Lodge they found an individual using a credit card with the same name as the one with the fraud alert at the Comfort Suites.

Burton, Lindberg and Riley were arrested at Great Wolf Lodge. In their room, authorities found a list of credit card numbers, a credit card embosser and several grams of methamphetamine. Charged with engaging in organized criminal activity were Burton, Lindberg and Riley. Burton also has been charged with drug possession. He was in the Tarrant County Jail on Thursday in lieu of $35,000 bail. Linberg was in the Tarrant County Jail in lieu of $10,000 bail, while Riley was out on $10,000 bail. Swinney was arrested on outstanding warrants and Lowe faces a drug possession charge. Jail records on Lowe and Swinney indicated they were free Thursday, but bail information was not available. [For more: Star-Telegram]

Confessions of a Phoenix shoplifter: “I stole just to take away the anxiety”

One in 11 people has either shoplifted or is willing to shoplift, according to the National Association for Shoplifting Prevention. A vast majority of shoplifters aren’t professionals. They don’t plan to steal. They don’t even plan to use or sell what they take. They find solace in shoplifting. But the price they usually end up paying can cost them their friends, family and their freedom. A former shoplifter, who is remaining anonymous for her protection, explained how that was true for her.

“I would say in high school was when I really noticed it,” she said. “I would start getting anxiety attacks and then how I would deal with it was I would go to stores and not even recognize that I was shoplifting but take something and conceal it, take it home and then hide it in like a pile in my closet. “There was Clorox wipes, there was shoes, it could be anything at the moment. It didn’t matter what it was because it wasn’t an object I was going to use. It was something I stole just to take away the anxiety.” This went on for two years. Sometimes it was a blur. “The only thing I was really aware of in the moment was how stressed out I was, what I needed to do to calm myself down,” she said. “There were a few times I ended up taking them back to the store or the person I took it from because I was able to realize the fact that I stole the item and I felt guilty.”  [For more: NBC12 News]

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Stolen trailer with $5,000 worth of snacks found in Arkansas

Police in Arkansas have arrested two people for stealing a 16-foot trailer that contained thousands of dollars’ worth of Little Debbie snack cakes. Police say the trailer was discovered missing early Wednesday from outside a storage unit in Jonesboro, about 115 miles northeast of Little Rock. According to a police report, the trailer belonged to a Little Debbie salesman and contained $5,000 worth of snacks. Jonesboro police said the trailer was located in neighboring Mississippi County that night during a traffic stop. A police report says none of the snack cakes were touched. Two female suspects have been taken into custody. The trailer’s owner, Roy Frazier, tells Jonesboro television station KAIT he’s thankful his property was returned and that he’s bought new locks for the trailer.  [For more: ABC News]

$61K in rings stolen from Oregon jewelry store

A 25-year-old man is charged in connection with an Ashland jewelry heist last week. Anthony M. Verastegui allegedly went to a jewelry store with two other people. The other two created a distraction so Verastegui could steal 15 rings from the store. The total value of the rings was estimated to be $61,000, according to police. Verastegui is seen on video reaching behind the jewelry counter and taking the entire display while his two friends distract the salesclerk, according to police.

Verastegui tried to sell one of the rings at separate store for $150 on the same day, and that’s when police arrested him. He is charged with one count of aggravated first-degree theft, according to the Ashland Police Department. Police have not recovered the other 14 rings.  [For more: KOIN6 News]

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