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Breaking News in the Industry: May 29, 2018

Armed man reportedly steals $30,000 in jewelry

Authorities are searching for a man who reportedly robbed a Burbank, California, antique store on Tuesday at gunpoint. A man wearing a hooded sweatshirt, sunglasses and a hat walked into Antiques on Magnolia around 3:30 p.m. and pointed a gun at an employee. Sheryl Coughlan, the store’s owner, said the man placed a sack on the store’s counter and demanded the employee fill it with jewelry. “He said if [the employee] didn’t do it, he was going to kill him,” she said.

An estimated $30,000 worth of jewelry was placed into the sack and the man fled, according to Sgt. Derek Green, a spokesman for the Burbank Police Department. He said officers arrived on scene soon after the robbery, but they were unable to locate the man. He is described as a white male, possibly in his 20s and was around 5 feet 7 to 6 feet tall. The robber also appeared to have reddish facial hair, according to Green. Coughlan said she’s been in the antiques and estate-sale business for 22 years, with three being spent at the 3412 W. Magnolia Blvd. storefront, and this was the first time she has been robbed at gunpoint.She said there has been a recent rash of robberies along Magnolia Boulevard, specifically smash-and-grabs, where thieves smash a window or display case and grab merchandise before fleeing. However, Green said robberies in the Magnolia Park District have been sporadic. The incident at Antiques on Magnolia, in fact, was the first armed robbery in that area this year.

Beyond this week’s incident, he said there was an attempted smash-and-grab robbery at nearby Bell Cottage in February and a grand theft at 1928 Jewelry in April. “Unless there are other incidents that haven’t been reported to us, crime has actually been down,” Green said. He said there was an uptick in crime a year ago around Magnolia, but the police department held a seminar about crime prevention and education with merchants to help deter and prevent further incidents. The department also increased patrols and had a more visible presence in the area. Despite the decline, Green said the robbery on Tuesday was “concerning.”

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“One robbery is one too many, especially for these merchants,” he said. “It pains us to see these types of crimes being committed against our local [businesses].” In the wake of the robbery, Coughlan said additional security cameras will be installed at the shop. She also said the store will have more panic buttons, which played a vital role on Tuesday. Once we pressed that panic button … Burbank police were at the store in 15 seconds. They were on it,” Coughlan said. In addition to the extra security features, she cautioned her fellow merchants in Magnolia Park “to be careful and vigilant” in light of the robbery. Anyone with information about the incident can call Burbank police at 818.238.3210.   [Source: Los Angeles Times]

Retailer hosts largest-yet ‘retail blitz’

Anchorage, Alaska, police have taken more than two dozen people into custody during the latest of its “retail blitz” operations at a large local store, the third to host one of the undercover stings. Police announced the 25 arrests Friday, following a Thursday operation in which plainclothes officers backed up loss prevention staff at the Fred Meyer store on Northern Lights Boulevard. A total of 21 people were arrested on theft counts involving at least $1,600 in stolen goods, at least $1,500 of which was recovered, with four more people picked up on non-theft charges. The latest sweep is the third conducted at a Fred Meyer location in Southcentral Alaska, after police inaugurated the tactic in December at the chain’s Abbott Road store in a six-arrest sweep. Alaska State Troopers netted nine people at Wasilla’s Fred Meyer in a January blitz. The region’s most recent operation occurred in February, when APD arrested 17 people in a sting at the Walmart on DeBarr Road.

A few of Thursday’s higher-profile cases mentioned by APD include: Thomas Dickson, 33, allegedly stole a bicycle and rode it from the store toward Fireweed Lane. Police say he began to pedal faster as a police cruiser pursued him; when another APD vehicle blocked his path at 22nd Avenue, he “refused to stop, rode into the side of the officer’s vehicle and fell off the stolen bike.” Dickson was unhurt and arrested for theft, but the vehicle he struck was damaged.

Jafra White, 34, was arrested for theft, as well as contributing to the delinquency of a minor and violating her conditions of release, after police said White and a 13-year-old girl “stole $103.86 of food items.” The girl was also arrested, then released to her parents. Larry Mayfield, 57, was arrested in the theft of $288.56 of merchandise. He also faces one count of failing to register as a sex offender. The state’s sex-offender registry shows him convicted of a 2004 attempted sexual assault in Anchorage. Osum Griffin, 35, and Kyle Paye, 32, were arrested after police said Griffin “stole three cans of spray paint, concealed the merchandise and ran from officers towards Paye who was waiting in a getaway vehicle.” Griffin was held on charges of theft, resisting arrest and violating conditions of his release; Paye was held on two counts of weapons misconduct, as a felon in possession of a weapon who failed to notify officers he had a handgun.   [Source: KTVA11 News]

K9 stop results in arrest of credit card forgery suspects

A K9 traffic stop along Interstate 40 in Ash Fork, Arizona, on Wednesday, May 16, resulted in the arrest of four California residents accused of running a credit card forging operation. At about 9:30 a.m., a Yavapai County Sheriff’s Office (YCSO) K9 deputy stopped a gray 2017 Ford Explorer for an equipment violation. The driver, Bernard Tran, 32, was unusually nervous when the deputy began to speak with him, according to a deputy report. The Ford Explorer had been rented by Tran’s sister, but she was not in the vehicle. As the conversation ensued, the deputy determined the group was likely involved in some form of criminal activity, the report said. Tran refused the deputies request to conduct a search of the vehicle for contraband, so the deputy deployed K9 ‘Gemma,’ certified in the detection of the odor of marijuana, cocaine, meth and heroin. During an exterior sniff of the vehicle, K9 Gemma displayed an alert to the odor of narcotics.

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When they searched the vehicle to find the source of the odor, deputies found more than seven grams of meth under the front seat, deputies reported. They also found several bags containing dozens of Visa and MasterCard blanks along with various credit and debit cards. Vun had three forged credit cards on him, one embossed with his name, the report stated. Ly possessed 15 forged credit cards found in her purse. After a more detailed search of the vehicle in a secure facility, deputies found a card skimmer, which is a device used to read credit card magnetic strips, along with additional forged cards in various account names, including Visa gift cards, Chase, Walmart and Sam’s Club. Several laptop computers were also seized. Nguyen later admitted direct involvement in possessing the meth, credit card skimmer and several forged credit cards.

Deputies verified that the suspects had rewritten the magnetic strip information on several cards seized. Deputies also seized a card reader/writer/encoder commonly used by fraud rings to re-write magnetic strips. Based on the findings, the suspects were arrested and booked into the Yavapai County jail in Camp Verde on the multiple charges.  “The investigation remains active as to the extent of this criminal enterprise, but there is no doubt these arrests will save the innocent victims of identity theft further fraudulent activity involving the suspects,” said YCSO spokesperson Dwight D’Evelyn. “YCSO would like to thank officers from the Chino Valley Police Department for their assistance with this incident.”    [Source: The Daily Courier]

Woman used kids as ‘lookouts’ while stealing video games

A woman used two children as “lookouts” while she stole dozens of video games from a Target in North Carolina, police said. Ashley Nicole Reed, 29, of Jacksonville, swiped 34 Nintendo Switch video games from a Target in Raleigh on Wednesday while a 10-year-old girl and 6-year-old boy stood nearby to alert her if any store employees approached, the News & Observer reports. Police said the children are siblings. It wasn’t immediately clear how or if the children were related to Reed, but investigators believe she conspired with one of their older relatives to plan and pull off the alleged thefts, according to the newspaper.

Calls seeking additional comment from police were not immediately returned Friday. Reed is facing two felony counts of larceny, one felony count of organized retail theft and conspiracy to commit larceny, as well as two misdemeanor counts of contributing to the delinquency of a juvenile. Reed was later booked into the Wake County jail, where her bail was set at $10,000. A judge later ordered her to not return to any Target location or have contact with her alleged accomplice as part of her release conditions, according to the newspaper.    [Source: New York Post]

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Pawn shop owner arrested in organized retail theft ring

Volusia County, Florida, deputies removed hundreds of drills from Richard Hill’s Music and Pawn Shop Thursday morning. “This is a million dollars in stolen property coming into a little pawn shop in the front door and going out the back door through the Internet,” Sheriff Mike Chitwood said. The shop’s owner, 51-year-old Richard Hill, allegedly hired two groups of people, including a father and son duo, to steal specific drills from Home Depot stores throughout Volusia County. “They go right in, grab as many of these drills as they can and they would come right back, where I’m sure he’d give them pennies on the dollar and then he went and sold everything online,” Chitwood said.

The investigation started in 2017, when a loss prevention officer at a Home Depot tipped deputies off after noticing an overwhelming amount of drills were missing. Investigators then made sales to Hill, telling him the items were stolen but said he still bought the merchandise. “To be a corrupt pawn shop owner is there. Just like the potential to be a corrupt anything is there,” Chitwood said. Deputies arrested Hill and the other seven people involved in the retail theft ring. Chitwood said they’ve only scratched the surface of the shop and will seize other items once they obtain a warrant. “The bottom line is, I think they’re maybe a few pawn shop owners who may be sleeping a little rough tonight wondering if the Volusia County Sheriff’s Office will be showing up at their door tomorrow morning,” Chitwood said. Hill faces charges of racketeering and conspiracy to commit racketeering.   [Source: ClickOrlando]

Sucker-Punch robbery suspect behind bars [Viral Video]

The Loss Angeles Police Department (LAPD) has arrested a suspect they said sucker-punched a man without provocation and then stole that man’s phone. Officers arrested Darren Richmond, 37, May 22 for a separate, unrelated crime. Once in custody, the detectives at LAPD noticed Richmond looked similar to the Best Buy robbery suspect from the day before. Richmond allegedly punched the man in a Best Buy in WeHo just before 8 p.m.  Sheriff’s deputies contacted West Hollywood Station to inquire about the similarities.

After a booking photo comparison and a follow up investigation, West Hollywood detectives were able to determine Richmond was the suspect from the retail electronics store robbery. Authorities said the victim in this case was knocked to the ground. Detectives released pictures of the suspect to the public to help identify him. Anyone with information about this incident is encouraged to contact the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department’s West Hollywood Station at 310.855.8850. If you prefer to provide information anonymously, you may call Crime Stoppers by dialing 800.222.TIPS.   [Source: CBS2 Los Angeles]

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