Breaking News in the Industry: May 3, 2018

Massive ORC ring sold stolen power tools through website market places; 34 in custody

Detectives in Florida have arrested 34 people in the sale of stolen power tools and other items from retailers including Home Depot through websites such as OfferUp, Letgo and Facebook Marketplace. The arrests last week capped a two month investigation by the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office that included a sting operation April 19 and 20 targeting thieves who stole items from four Home Depot stores in Brandon, Riverview, Valrico and Sun City Center, the Sheriff’s Office said. The thieves sold the stolen goods to intermediaries, or fences, and the fences sold them to the public through the websites at 30 percent off the retail price, claiming they were authorized product dealers, had bought the items in bulk, or were selling a gift they received, the Sheriff’s Office said. All told, The Home Depot reported power tool thefts of $2.4 million from those four stores during a recent 12-month period, the Sheriff’s Office said. Sheriff’s detectives worked with Home Depot corporate loss prevention on the investigation. The investigation also included raids April 24 on the homes of four people identified as fences. The Sheriff’s Office arrested Joshua Burr, 31; Kyle Walters, 37; Duane Gutherie, 46; and Aaron Orr. During the arrests, the Sheriff’s Office seized more than $90,000 in new merchandise still in the box, more than 5 pounds of marijuana, a stolen boat and trailer, and two stolen cars.  [Source: Tampa Bay Times]

Criminals stealing a lot of lingerie from local mall

In North Carolina, Victoria’s Secret stores are becoming a well-known target for thieves. NBC Charlotte found several reports of shoplifters at South Park Mall pilfering panties and bras by the hundreds. More than $8,000 worth was stolen in a single incident Monday afternoon. Two people are wanted in connection with the crime.
“That’s really kind of unbelievable,” shopper Kimberly Pruett said. More than $20,248 worth of women’s lingerie was stolen in just five incidents at South Park’s Victoria Secret location that NBC Charlotte counted since January. In many of these cases, shoplifters will steal in bulk in an attempt to resell the stolen merchandise online. according to Money Magazine, shoplifting and employee theft cost retailers nearly $50 billion in 2016. That’s up $10 billion since 2010 when shoplifting cost the average American family an additional $423. “I don’t like it because when they steal and everything, it makes all the prices go up on everything,” one woman said. However, since it continues to happen here in the Carolinas and all over country, consumers we talked to had one pressing question: What is Victoria’s Secret doing about this? Victoria’s Secret did not respond to the question. At last check, police are still looking for the suspects in Monday’s lingerie theft worth more than $7,000. [Source: WCNC News]

Employee accused of stealing 102 items from store

A 49-year-old Milwaukee woman has been charged with retail theft and disorderly conduct after allegedly taking 102 items with a combined value of $1,239 from Meijer, 1600 Port Washington Road, at 5:03 p.m. April 19. Jeanette M. Johnson is a former employee at Meijer and, among other items, attempted to steal a TV while she was employed there, according to police. She was charged April 20 in Ozaukee County Circuit Court, according to online court records. A preliminary test found she had a blood alcohol content of 0.14 on April 19. According to police she had purchased unspecified alcoholic beverages and “it is believed she may have consumed alcohol while inside of the store.” A preliminary hearing has been scheduled for June 4.  [Source: Journal-Sentinel]

Pediatrician, husband arrested on suspicion of running theft scam in stores

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A Thousand Oaks, California, couple is in custody after investigators found they were allegedly running a theft scheme, using fake bar codes to steal merchandise from Target stores, officials said Tuesday. Detectives began probing in April multiple incidences of theft dating back to January at the retailer’s locations in Thousand Oaks, Westlake Village and Woodland Hills, the Ventura County Sheriff’s Department said in a news release. Working with Target asset protection associates, investigators determined that a husband-and-wife team was conspiring to manufacture phony bar codes to affix on items that would effectively decrease the price the products rang up for. They would then use self-checkout to pay for the merchandise in attempt to avoid being caught, sheriff’s officials said.

Detectives tied the scam to Dr. Elizabeth Hooper, a 43-year-old pediatrician, and 52-year-old David Hooper, a musician. The couple was ultimately able to steal about $2,400 worth of merchandise, deputies said. After a search warrant was served at their home on the 2600 block of Lander Court last Thursday, April 26, detectives uncovered materials used to create fraudulent bar codes along with items stolen from Target, officials said. Elizabeth, who was at home at the time, was arrested on suspicion of grand theft and conspiracy. David, who was out of state, met with investigators on Monday and was subsequently arrested, also on suspicion of grand theft and conspiracy. Both were being held on $20,000 bail, authorities said. [Source: KTLA5 News]

Third man arrested in shoplifting case

A Rome, Georgia, man accused of working with two others to steal nearly $1,000 worth of merchandise from Walmart was in jail on a felony shoplifting charge. According to Floyd County Jail records, bond was set at $3,500 for Jaire Malik Daniels, 19. To be released, Daniels also must post bonds totaling $7,140 in connection with two charges of failing to appear in court. Daniels is charged with helping Devante Japal Daniels, 26, and Kortajia Ma’tia Watkins, 19, on Nov. 20, 2017. Devante Daniels filled a cart with PS4 merchandise, an air purifier and beauty products valued at $949.96 and pushed it through an emergency exit. The three then loaded it into a car waiting there. Watkins and Devante Daniels were arrested in January. Watkins was released on bond but the elder Daniels remained in jail Monday night with no bond set.   [Source: Rome News-Tribune]

Suspect arrested; pleads guilty to fraud

The United States Attorney for the District of Connecticut announced that Elijah Chin, 28, of Federal Way, Washington, pleaded guilty today in Hartford federal court to fraud and identity theft offenses stemming from a credit card fraud scheme. The Wilton Police Department arrested Chin on related state charges on February 22, 2017. At the time of his arrest, Chin possessed numerous fraudulently issued credit cards, prepaid cards purchased with the fraudulently obtained credit cards, and mail addressed to Connecticut residents. According to court documents and statements made in court, between approximately December 2016 and February 2017, Chin was involved in a scheme in which credit card accounts were opened electronically using personal identifying information from Connecticut residents.

After the credit card issuers mailed credit cards to the victims’ home addresses, Chin took the cards directly from the victims’ mailboxes. Chin then used the credit cards to purchase gift cards, prepaid cards and other items totaling $63,941.60 at various retail establishments in Connecticut. Chin pleaded guilty to one count of wire fraud, and offense that carries a maximum term of imprisonment of 20 years, and one count of aggravated identity theft, an offense that carries a mandatory consecutive term of imprisonment of two years. He is scheduled to be sentenced by U.S. District Judge Michael P. Shea on July 23, 2018. The U.S. Postal Inspection Service, Wilton Police Department and Ridgefield Police Department are conducting this ongoing investigation.  [Source: Wilton Patch]

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