Breaking News in the Industry: November 1, 2018

Shoplifting

Manager accused of stealing $30,000 from her store

A former employee has been accused of stealing more than $30,000 from a Burlington store, including $13,000 from the Springfield, Missouri, store. Angie Chaney, 43, was charged earlier this month with felony stealing in Greene County. A probable cause statement says Burlington store contacted the Springfield Police Department in January about a theft case involving Chaney, the ex-store manager for the 3860 W. Washita St. location.

The company reported to police that Chaney had stolen more than $13,000 in the fall of 2017 by taking money from the cash drawer while counting, according to the statement. A bond recommendation from prosecutors says Chaney is also charged with stealing $19,000 from a Burlington Coat Factory in a different jurisdiction. Court records indicate Chaney posted bond in the Greene County case but does not have an attorney listed. Felony stealing carries a possible 7-year prison sentence.   [Source: Springfield News-Leader]

Driver leads police on high-speed chase before crashing

A Michigan motorist led police on a short, high-speed chase before he crashed into a curb and was caught while running away.  Police later determined the man had just shoplifted several items from a store in the 2100 block of West Columbia Avenue. The incident began at 3:35 a.m. Tuesday, Oct. 30, when Calhoun County sheriff’s deputies spotted a traffic violation on 20th Street near Lafayette Avenue in the City of Springfield.

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Police tried to stop the vehicle near Jackson Street but the driver fled at a high speed. After a short pursuit, the driver could not make a turn onto Van Buren Street near Limit Street and crashed into the curb. The man got out and ran through several yards before he was arrested. During the investigation, police learned that the man had just shoplifted, and found stolen items in his vehicle.

The driver, a 47-year-old Battle Creek man, was arrested for fleeing and eluding, resisting an officer, driving on a suspended license and retail fraud, or shoplifting. He also had outstanding warrants. Battle Creek police helped sheriff’s deputies. The suspect was held at the Calhoun County Jail.   [Source: MLive.com]

Sears’ ‘tragic’ bankruptcy turns to opportunity as US mall owners court retailers to fill empty stores

U.S. mall owners see Sears’ bankruptcy as “tragic,” dumping millions of square feet of empty real estate on a market already marked by store closures and staggering vacancy rates. Still, the “ultimate, unfortunate demise” of Sears came as no surprise to Simon Property Group, the largest mall owner in North America, according to CEO David Simon. It’s been planning for it for some time — talking to up-and-coming retailers and hotel companies as possible replacements, as well as disposing under-performing assets, Simon told analysts on a conference call Thursday. The real estate investment trust, which operates more than 100 malls globally, is putting Sears “in the rear-view mirror,” he said.

Simon and other mall owners largely brushed off Sears’ bankruptcy filing during calls with analysts last week. Many are saying it provides an opportunity, even as these landlords are now forced to spend billions of dollars renovating empty spaces and potentially suffer from lost rent in between tenants. A recent wave of store closures by big-box retailers and department store chains like Sears, Toys R Us, J.C. Penney and Bon-Ton is forcing commercial landlords to pony up more cash and get creative to replace those spaces with unconventional new tenants, like Nobu hotels.

Simon says it will spend more than $1 billion in capital to redevelop the 33 Sears stores it has in its portfolio that either have already shuttered or are expected to close later this year. Washington Prime Group, which has 28 Sears locations in its portfolio slated to go dark, says it’s allocating up to $325 million of capital to renovate them for new tenants. The latter also said last week it’s now expecting net operating income to decline about 2 percent in fiscal 2018, primarily because of Sears. Other landlords with exposure to Sears and Kmart include Macerich, CBL Properties, Urban Edge Properties and Kimco.   [Source: CNBC News]

Beer, steaks and jewelry go flying after shoplifting suspect crashes moped

A shoplifting suspect who drove away after taking a variety of food and jewelry items from a South Carolina store was arrested after his moped crashed, scattering the stolen merchandise in the roadway, according to police. Spartanburg police officers responded to a wreck involving a moped on East Main Street at Dawn Redwood Drive around 10:30 a.m. Monday, according to a Spartanburg Police Department incident report. They found a yellow moped that had crashed and a man laying in the street. The man was taken to a hospital for treatment. While police searched his book bag and clothing for identification, they found several items that were believed to have been recently stolen, according to the report.

Scattered across the roadway were several steaks, miscellaneous jewelry items, three packages of Reese’s Cups and a pair of brown FUBU shoes, police said. Also strewn across the roadway were several packages of jumbo shrimp, chicken wings and a case of Bud Light beer. The loss prevention team from the nearby Walmart told police the suspect, identified as Michael Warren Hill, entered the store around 9:30 a.m. and took the items without paying for them, the report states. None of the items collected from the roadway could be resold. Hill faces a shoplifting charge, according to police. It was not clear in the report what caused him to wreck the moped.   [Source: The Charlotte Observer]

Authorities believe Romanian nationals tied to card skimmers found on ATMs

Court documents say multiple law enforcement agencies are investigating illegal card skimmers on ATMs in the Springfield, Missouri, area and believe the culprits could be tied to Romania. Loredana Baceanu, 30, was arrested in Nixa on Tuesday, October 23 with 49 debit and gift cards in a hidden pocket of an undergarment and $880 in cash in her bra.

Baceanu allegedly told officers she was a Romanian citizen who had entered the United States through the southern border. Before coming to America, Baceanu was part of a Romanian gang that committed a string of burglaries in Wales, according to a Welsh news outlet. At the time of Baceanu’s arrest by Nixa police, court documents say a Springfield police detective had already been working on several cases involving a group of Romanian nationals who were targeting ATMs using card skimmers and stealing information.   [Source: Springfield News-Leader]

Blind couple sue retailer after employee uses self-checkout kiosk to steal money from them

The National Federation of the Blind is suing Walmart, saying the stores’ self-checkout kiosks don’t fully comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act. The Baltimore Sun reports that three blind Maryland residents are named in the federal lawsuit filed October 25, including a woman who says a Walmart worker in Owings Mills, Maryland, selected cash back and took $40 without her knowledge.

The plaintiffs want a permanent injunction bringing the kiosks in line with accessibility regulations, a declaration that Walmart has been violating the ADA, court costs and attorneys’ fees. Walmart says in response that it doesn’t tolerate discrimination, and believes its checkout procedures already comply with the law. The company also says it investigated the theft complaint and the worker in question is no longer an employee.   [Source: KSW8 News]

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