Breaking News in the Industry: November 15, 2018

Shoplifting

Suspect arrested for shoplift, trespass; then escapes handcuffs

A New York woman who had recently been arrested for shoplifting at a Walmart was arrested at a Cortland County Walmart after trespassing and then fleeing officers. According to the Cortland County Sheriff’s Office, authorities responded to Walmart in the Town of Cortlandville for a report of someone trespassing in the store.

Officers located the subject, Rachel Chace, at a check-out register. She was taken into custody when her mother, Tammy Chace, intervened and tried to prevent officers from arresting her daughter. When officers were escorting the pair toward the front of the store, Rachel Chace was able to slip her hands out of the handcuffs and attempted to run away from the officers. She was taken back into custody before leaving the store by another officer.   [Source: CNY Central]

ORC shoplifting ring busted by police

In Georgia, Athens-Clarke County police believe they have identified three suspects who worked as a team to steal newly-released DVD and Blu-ray movie video discs valued at thousands of dollars from Walmart on Lexington Road over a four-month period this year. After the thefts first were reported in July, Athens-Clarke County police Detective Nathaniel Franco thought the suspects might be using the same unique method of stealing the video discs from other stores. He said he found that similar such thefts had been reported at Walmart stores throughout north Georgia.

- Sponsor -

Working in teams of three, Franco said Tuesday one suspect acted as a lookout while another removed a large item from its box and then filled the box with DVDs and Blu-ray discs. “Later, the third suspect entered the store, located the box full of discs and purchased it with cash,” he said. In each of the Athens thefts the suspects removed a crock pot from its box and filled the empty box with discs, paying for only the cost of the crock pot. A crock pot sells for as little as $15.99, according to the Walmart’s website, but after the crock pot is removed the box can hold dozens of DVDs and Blu-rays that can cost as much as $25 per disc.

In the most recent heist, on Nov.ember 2, the thieves were said by police to have gotten away with 73 discs with a total value of $1,788. Another such theft occurred Oct. 2, police said. “This type of shoplifting is organized retail crime.” Franco said. ”… This group is very organized and they can hit multiple stores in a single day, stealing thousands of dollars’ worth of merchandise.”

Franco believes the suspects fence the stolen items to an intermediary who may sell them to a pawn shop or at a flea-market. He is investigating whether the three Athens suspects were part of a larger organization. After the most recent shoplifting incident, Franco reached out to law enforcement agencies in Atlanta and northeast Georgia. He determined that the same group of thieves hit multiple Walmarts in Milton, Cleveland, Toccoa, Clayton, the Atlanta metro area and possibly Oconee County in South Carolina.   [Source: Athens Banner-Herald]

Changes in packaging helps supply chain with easier shipping and the environment

Tide laundry detergent will soon be shipped in a shoe box, part of its parent company Procter & Gamble’s push to adapt to online deliveries. P&G rolled out the new “Tide Eco-Box” on Friday. It features a twist-to-open pour for the detergent, a pull-out stand, and a measuring cup. The liquid formula, which contains less water than normal Tide, comes in a sealed bag.

The version uses 60% less plastic than shipping an equivalent 150 ounce bottle of Tide since it doesn’t require additional layers of cardboard boxing or bubble wrap. It’s lighter and takes up less space in a delivery truck… saving P&G money on shipping costs. “Its size is perfect for the e-commerce supply chain,” said David. Tide Eco-Box will join Tide’s lineup on Amazon, Walmart’s website, and other P&G retail partners’ sites starting in January.    [Source: CNN News]

Quick data breach notification for employees

Nordstrom is the latest victim in a long line of data breaches suffered across the retail sector, according to The Seattle Times. The Seattle-based retailer suffered a data breach in which a wide range of personal information was exposed. In addition to disclosing employee names, their Social Security numbers and dates of birth, checking account and routing numbers, salaries and more were also revealed.

Co-president Blake Nordstrom reportedly apologized to employees in an email in which he had notified staff about the data breach. According to a statement from the company, the anomalous activity was detected on October 9, 2018, after a contract worker had inappropriately handled some Nordstrom employee data.

What followed was what Terry Ray, CTO at Imperva, said was protocol worthy of a pat on the back. “Nordstrom’s own security team became aware of the exposure in a reasonable time. Many breaches and exposures aren’t identified for months or years and, often times, not disclosed in a reasonable amount of time,” said Ray.

“Additionally, most breaches are identified by external researcher or law enforcement before the company; however, this is not the case with Nordstrom. Nordstrom knows what was exposed. In more than half of breaches and exposures companies do not know what data was exposed or stolen. Nordstrom then took immediate steps to remediate, removing the contract worker and putting additional controls put in place.”

Though no evidence of data theft has been discovered, the company has been proactive about notifying all employees of the incident. “Taking that a step further, Nordstrom offered affected employees two years of identity theft protection, which companies often only offer post breach, for exposure. All in all, Nordstrom appears to be handling this exposure very responsibly. Kudos to them,” Ray said.   [Source: InfoSecurity Group]

Local police say shoplifting ‘hugely underreported’

Shoplifters in Cambridge, Massachusetts, have been pretty specific recently. More than $600 worth of aerosol deodorant was stolen from a Porter Square store and some $250 worth of shrimp was filched from a grocery. These incidents may have piqued interest in shoplifting, but according to Jeremy Warnick, director of communications and media relations for the Cambridge Police Department, there are no new patterns to shoplifting.

According to the Cambridge Police Department’s 2017 Annual Crime Report, shoplifting reports were up 13 percent in 2017,  a total of 370 reported, over 2016 figures. Figures for 2018 appear to be slightly higher. Whereas there were approximately 161 cases of shoplifting in the first six months of last year, there were 170 cases in 2018. Currently, East Cambridge, where CambridgeSide Galleria is located, has the most reports of shoplifting cases, with Cambridgeport being the runner-up, according to crime data available on the city of Cambridge’s open portal. Police note that the actual amount of shoplifting in the city might be “six to 10 times greater than the statistic given,” because, as the 2017 Annual Crime Report states, “shoplifting incidents are often only reported when an arrest is made.” If that’s true, it’s possible there were 2,220 to 3,700 incidents of shoplifting in 2017.

“The holiday season typically sees an uptick in reported shoplifting incidents,” said Warnick. “Last year, reports were up to 77 percent in December (39) versus November (22).” Denise Jillson, executive director of the Harvard Square Business Association, agreed, noting shoplifting is always a concern, especially during the holiday season. “Our businesses strive to be vigilant, provide training for their employees and take extra precautions,” Jillson said.

Police also noted that shoplifting may be worse than the statistics show because shoplifting incidents are only reported if an arrest was made. Shopkeepers agree that they don’t call the police unless the situation is dangerous. “If I report every shoplifting case, the police would be in my store several times a day,” said a shop owner. “Who keeps my business going if I have to go to court as a witness?”

The shopkeepers said they have high hopes for the new substation slated to open nearby in Central Square next to the Cambridge Savings Bank. The new substation will allow residents to file reports with an officer in Central Square instead of reporting to the headquarters. “Crime is not the problem, prevention is more important,” said the shop owner. “More patrolling in our neighborhood and the existence of a substation might decrease crime because it may affect a person’s tendency to shoplift when they know police are around.”   [Source: Wicked Local]

Racial profiling allegations resolved

Lord & Taylor will hire an expert consultant to review and improve its shoplifting prevention policies and procedures, train its staff, and pay $100,000 to resolve an investigation into racial discrimination, Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey announced today. The settlement agreement between Lord & Taylor LLC and the AG’s Office concludes an investigation into the company’s loss prevention practices and policies. Covering all four of Lord & Taylor’s Massachusetts stores – in Boston, Braintree, Burlington and Natick – the AG’s investigation arose out of concerns that the company’s efforts to prevent shoplifting perpetuated a climate of racial and ethnic bias resulting in, among other things, the disproportionate targeting of black and Hispanic customers for surveillance and apprehension. Lord & Taylor fully cooperated with the AG’s Civil Rights Division during its investigation and in agreeing to proactively address these issues.

“Following our investigation, Lord & Taylor has agreed to take meaningful steps to improve its policies and procedures to prevent racial profiling of customers—we hope others will do the same,” said AG Healey. “Far too often, shoppers are unfairly viewed as suspicious or not belonging, simply because of their race or ethnicity. This takes a toll on individuals and broader communities, even when it is the result of unconscious bias, and it is our collective responsibility to address it.”

Under the terms of the settlement, Lord & Taylor will hire an outside consultant, who specializes in addressing unconscious or implicit bias in the retail industry, to conduct a thorough review of its existing shoplifting prevention policies and work with the company to make improvements, including a specific policy to prevent racial bias in the stores’ shoplifting prevention activities.  Lord & Taylor also has agreed to provide annual unconscious or implicit bias training to all of its customer-facing employees in its Massachusetts stores and to enhance the training it provides to its Asset Protection employees. In addition, the company will pay $100,000 to the Commonwealth to fund programs, activities, or other resources intended to combat racial discrimination and to promote racial equity and inclusion.”   [Source: Mass.gov]

Stay Updated

Get critical information for loss prevention professionals, security and retail management delivered right to your inbox.