Breaking News in the Industry: May 21, 2018

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Woman tracks stolen phone, leads police to 69 others

Police are trying to pair nearly 70 cellphones with their rightful owners after they were apparently stolen during last weekend’s Shaky Beats Festival in Atlanta, Georgia.   According to the Atlanta Police Department, officers responded to multiple cell phone thefts at the festival in Renaissance Park and Central Park May 12 and 13. But it was thanks to one of the theft victims that police were able recover the dozens of phones. Police said that victim used the Find My iPhone feature and traced her missing phone to a FedEx store off Piedmont Road. When she got there, she pinged her phone, which rang inside a box that had been dropped off earlier that morning. When they opened the box, the victim found her phone among several other phones. That led police to another box where they found several more. In total, police recovered 69 phones they believe were stolen from festival-goers.

Police said most of the phones were either put in airplane mode, which turns off the phones cellular signal, or had the SIM cards removed and taped to the back. Now, they’re trying to get the cellphones back to their owners. Police are asking anyone who thinks they may have lost, misplaced or had a phone stolen during the festival to contact the lead detective, S.N. Krieger  by clicking here. Be prepared to provide a detailed description of the device and evidence of ownership. Meanwhile, police are working to identify the person or people behind the thefts. Police say they could face charges anywhere from theft by receiving to robbery.   [Source: 11Alive News]

Sporting goods store employee arrested for shoplifting, theft

A 24-year-old Bayard man is facing felony charges for allegedly changing prices, stealing and giving away merchandise at the Scottsbluff, Nebraska,  sporting goods store. Garrett LeMaitre was arrested Wednesday afternoon for shoplifting over $5,000 and theft by unlawful taking after a regional loss prevention manager for Dunham’s Sports called Scottsbluff Police. Court records say the manager told investigators that the company had lost around $26,213.12 attributable to actions by LeMaitre, who had been working for the company since December of last year. The affidavit says officers were given a balance sheet that indicated the majority of the money, $23,678.67, was lost earlier in May when LeMaitre allegedly gave away or discounted golf clubs and related merchandise. Another $1,708.45 was lost in April through discounts on five handguns, with the remainder lost in stolen items such as drinks and snacks plus another $200 to $800 in cash.

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The court documents say Lemaitre allegedly told officers he gave away or changed prices on golf clubs for two men who claimed to be purchasing the equipment to donate to local schools, but they said the equipment was outdated and wanted a discount. With the handgun prices, officers say LeMaitre claimed he reduced the prices on the items for two people he knew when they told him prices were lower at other local stores. LeMaitre told officers Dunham’s had a price match policy on firearms, so he made the reductions but did not confirm the prices at the other businesses. LeMaitre’s first court appearance was set for Friday morning.  [Source: NBC2 Nebraska]

Teenagers allegedly shoplift while holding infant child

Two women in Georgia were allegedly involved in a shoplifting and hit and run, all while one of them was holding an infant child. According to a police report from the LaGrange Police Department, two females — ages 18 and 17 — allegedly took numerous shirts from Dunham’s Sports Saturday by putting them in a stroller. According to the police report, the six shirts stolen were valued at $181.95. The report lists the description of a witness, who said the women went to a nearby store and asked for an empty shopping bag.  The two suspects then went to a nearby hallway and attempted to put the shirts inside when a Dunham Sports employee approached them. According to the report, the females ran, leaving the stroller and car seat behind. They also left behind the shirts, a gold iPhone and one of their driver’s licenses. As they backed out of the mall area, the vehicle they were driving struck a parked vehicle in the parking lot, according to the report. The owner of the other vehicle was walking to his vehicle when the collision occurred. Officers used a GPS tracker to locate the vehicle.

The Hogansville Police Department contacted two females on Boozer Street, but officers advised they would not be able to transport them to jail and the LPD did not have an officer free to travel to Hogansville. According to the police report, arrangements were made for the females to turn themselves into the police department. One of the two females, 18-year-old Zikerria Desmeon Dawson, turned herself in. As of the time of the police report, the other suspect had not been to the LPD. Dawson was charged with theft by shoplifting. The other female will be charged with theft by shoplifting, striking an unattended vehicle, child restraint and operating a vehicle outside her instructional permit.   [Source: The LaGrange Daily News]

Second suspect arrested in electronics theft

Police in Elko, Nevada, have made a second arrest in the theft of thousands of dollars of electronics from Walmart in January. Detectives also believe they figured out how a couple was able to smuggle goods out of the store through its closed garden center entrance. Levi N. Bell, 38, of Spring Creek was arrested Wednesday on a warrant charging him with burglary, grand larceny and conspiracy to commit grand larceny. The charges stem from the Jan. 17 theft of $3,700 worth of cellphones and other electronics. A former Walmart employee, Delaney Petersen, 28, of Spring Creek was arrested in February after an investigation turned up evidence that she and a male accomplice had stolen the items during a 6 a.m. visit to the store.

A former co-worker reportedly recognized Petersen and spoke to her as she and the male purchased a Mountain Dew and bottle of water using a welfare debit card before leaving the store. Petersen then identified Bell and detectives did a follow-up investigation that led to his arrest. The couple allegedly took a duffel bag from the sporting goods department and placed the electronic items in it, then removed the duffel bag from the store through its garden center. Police believe Bell was able to lift the door’s vinyl slats high enough to slide the bag out.Bell was already in custody when booked on this crime. He was arrested March 23 on a felony warrant for owning or possessing a gun by a prohibited person; two counts of use or possession of a stun gun/device by a felon/fugitive; buying, possessing or receiving stolen property; and possession of a controlled substance. His bail on those charges was listed at $70,000.    [Source: Elko Daily Free Press]

Suspect charged with leading fraud ring that targeted grocery retailer

An Indianapolis man has been charged in a 10-count indictment for his alleged leadership role in a fraud ring that used thousands of forged checks at Kroger stores in at least 12 states. Frank D. Powell, 28, faces seven counts of wire fraud, one count of attempted bank fraud, one count of aggravated identity theft, and one count of false statements to a financial institution, U.S. Attorney Josh Minkler announced Thursday. Federal investigators say Powell organized a ring that used fraudulent checks to purchase gift cards and merchandise from stores throughout the country from January 2016 until last month. Powell and his associates are accused of using more than 5,000 fraudulent checks in at least 30 different individual or business names, such as “Frank Pawell” and “Pawell Child Care LLC.”

After processing, the checks were returned to Kroger as “account closed, forged, non-sufficient funds or unable to locate account.” “Individuals who defraud local business and banks drive up prices for all consumers,” Minkler said in written remarks. “Those who chose to swindle others in this district will be held accountable.” Investigators say Powell also attempted to defraud a local bank and car dealership when he tried to obtain financing for the purchase a Cadillac Escalade using the identity of another person without the person’s knowledge. Powell used the name, address and social security number of his victim in the March 12 scheme, along with a fake Illinois driver’s license that contained the victim’s information but Powell’s photograph, according to investigators. Investigators say Powell’s ruse was discovered during the loan-application process, and he tried to bribe one of the dealership’s employees with a sofa to not report him.

Authorities say Powell could face up to 30 years in prison on the bank-related charges, up to 20 years for each of the wire fraud charge, and a mandatory minimum of 2 years on the aggravated identity theft charge, if convicted. The FBI and law enforcement personnel from Indianapolis, Hamilton County, Fishers, Carmel and Johnson County, and Kroger’s Organized Retail Crime Investigators, Central Division investigated this case.   [Source: Indiana Business Journal]

Shoplifting suspect taken down by K-9, arrested after leading police on chase

Paso Robles, California, resident, Dustin Anthony Orton, 30, is recovering from dog bites after a police K-9 took him down during a foot chase. Orton is accused of shoplifting from an Atascadero Smart & Final grocery store and then running away from police when officers tried to confront him. Atascadero police say officers arrived at the grocery store soon after receiving the shoplifting report at about 2:50 p.m. on May 17, and eventually spotted Orton who matched the suspect’s description but ran away when he saw police.

With the assistance of a K-9 unit and a California Highway Patrol helicopter, Atascadero police set up a perimeter in the area of Curbaril, Sinaloa, and Santa Ysabel avenues in an attempt to catch Orton who they say was possibly armed with a knife. They eventually found Orton in a backyard near the 8900 block of Curbaril Avenue. After refusing to obey officers, the K-9 dog was released and police eventually arrested Orton. He was treated by medical personnel and will recover from the dog bites.   [Source: KYET3 News]

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