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Breaking News in the Industry: October 15, 2018

Boxcar bandits nab Air Jordans and more

Memphis Police (MPD) are trying to find the people who burglarized a Norfolk Southern boxcar and took around $36,000 worth of merchandise. It happened behind Carolyn Mason’s Orange Mound neighborhood, at the Spottswood boxcar facility, according to a police report.

Police said the crooks cut a hole in the fence behind the Commons at Brentwood homes. The crooks got away with a valuable load, including nearly 400 pairs of Air Jordan 12 sneakers, worth $28,800, industrial gloves worth $2,400 and a bunch of Champion sweatshirts valued at $3,600.”From what I hear that’s not the first time that happened,” Mason said.

In fact, this is a big problem in the Mid-South. Just last week, federal authorities chased down hundreds of guns stolen from a Memphis UPS facility. The crooks were taking them to Chicago. “Cargo theft is a big problem here due to the fact we are the distribution center,” said Lt. David Ballard with the Shelby County Sheriff’s Office.

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A WREG investigation found these thefts are usually the result of an inside jobs. It’s unclear if that’s the case in this latest incident. MPD said there were no cameras present during the burglary but they did get prints from the boxcars.   [Source: News Channel3]

Officer injured as shoplifting suspect fled

An officer risked his own safety to stop a woman suspected of robbing a New Jersey Walmart and running over a loss prevention associate. Hamilton police located Courtney Lynn Rumery, 21, of Hamilton, in Trenton after the incident at the Nottingham Way store, and was pulled her over in Trenton, police said. During the stop Rumery took off with the officer gripping the back of the car. After not being able to shake the officer she crashed her vehicle and fled on foot. The impact of the crash caused the officer to be thrown from the vehicle, suffering non-life threatening injuries, according to Hamilton police.

Trenton police followed Rumery and took her into custody. Rumery was charged with robbery in Hamilton Township and aggravated assault on a police officer in Trenton. The loss prevention associate was treated and released for minor injuries. Hamilton police asked anyone with information about this incident to call 609.689.5825.   [Source: New Jersey 101.5]

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This map shows all the locations Sears once operated and what it has left today

Sears, once the largest retailer in the U.S., has now filed for bankruptcy protection and said this morning it plans to close 142 more stores this year — adding to the stores the retailer already shuttered in 2018. It isn’t immediately known which stores the company plans to shutter. It once operated more than 3,500 locations across the U.S. under its namesake Sears brand and Kmart. Roughly 700 are still in business and it hopes to keep a portion open through this holiday season.

Sears has been shedding its real estate for years as one way to raise cash when the company has been in a pinch. In 2015, it spun off about 250 stores to form a real estate investment trust called Seritage. Within just the past two years, it has shut more than 700 stores.

Analysts say the company has opted to sell some of its more profitable locations from the get-go, leaving it with underwhelming assets. As the retailer’s real estate has dwindled, so has analysts’ confidence the company can stay afloat. Sears has lost more than $11 billion since 2011. Its last profitable year was 2010.   [Source: CNBC News]

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Two men plead guilty to $7M credit card fraud scheme

Geoffrey S. Berman, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, announced today that James Beckish and Joseph Anthony Demaria pled guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud in connection with a scheme to make unauthorized charges on credit cards through sham companies that purportedly offered nutraceutical products for sale over the internet.  Beckish and Demaria pled guilty before United States District Judge Edgardo Ramos.

According to the Complaint, the Information to which Beckish and DEMARIA pled guilty, and statements made during the proceedings today: Between 2013 and 2017, Beckish, Demaria and others, created and operated dozens of companies that purported to sell dietary supplements and similar products called “nutraceuticals” over the internet.  The websites of the defendants’ companies purported to sell products like dietary supplements but, in reality, were primarily used to repeatedly bill consumers who never ordered their products, or even if they did, almost never received them.

The defendants used these websites as a cover for unauthorized and recurring charges that were placed on thousands of credit card numbers that the defendants had purchased or obtained, or had acquired from consumers who had attempted to order the products in question.  For example, in one email, Demaria asked Beckish: “Are we shipping these guys actual nutra products? Lol.”  To which Beckish responded:  “Nope.” Beckish, Demaria, and others created these different companies and websites, because they knew that credit card processors would stop doing business with them over time as consumers noticed the unauthorized charges and sought refunds.

These refunds, called “chargebacks” by credit card processors, are generally low for legitimate businesses but reached extremely high percentages for many of the companies associated with the defendants’ scheme.  In certain instances, the chargeback rates quickly approached or even exceeded 20 percent – that is, consumers were seeking refunds of more than 20 percent of the charges placed by certain of the defendants’ companies.  Credit card processors, in turn, paid millions of dollars in refunds for fraudulent charges associated with the defendants’ companies between 2013 and 2017 in attempts to refund affected consumers. In total, Beckish and Demaria both pled guilty to causing more than $7 million in loss during the duration of the scheme. [Source: United States Department of Justice]

Dad calls cops; son charged with 126 felonies

A Mercersburg, Maryland, man has been charged with well over a hundred felonies after his father accused him of racking up thousands of dollars in purchases using his identity and bank/credit accounts. David West, 27, is charged with 63 counts each of identity theft and access device fraud, as well as a misdemeanor count each of theft by unlawful taking and receiving stolen property, court records show. He is in Franklin County Jail, unable to post $200,000 bail.

Pennsylvania State Police wrote in court documents filed in Magisterial District Judge Jody Eyer’s office that West’s father reported the alleged thefts to police on July 16. He said his son had been using his credit and debit cards to make a number of purchases. West also allegedly opened a credit card in his father’s name and used his father’s bank account to pay for the credit card and other bills, according to court documents.

West’s father provided bank and credit card documents that showed a loss of $4,668.93. He also said his son stole several tools valued at a total $650. These incidents happened between April 17 and July 5, police said. Police obtained surveillance videos that showed West using the credit and debit cards to make unauthorized purchases at multiple locations in Pennsylvania and Maryland. Police also learned that West had pawned several of the tools his father had reported stolen in Hagerstown, Maryland. West’s preliminary hearing is scheduled for Oct. 23 in Franklin County Central Court.  [Source: PublicOpinionOnline]

Opioid epidemic resulting in more women committing crimes

Dressed in striped clothing with chains hugging her waist, a 43-year-old Carleton, Michigan, woman recently stood before a Monroe County judge to be sentenced for a probation violation. After being released from the Monroe County jail, the county resident was arrested for possession of cocaine — her first felony charge out of a five-year history of on-and-off incarceration. Her previous charges also were drug-related.

Circuit Judge Michael A. Weipert told the offender that he felt he had no other choice but to impose a firm sentence. She was given 32 to 48 months in state prison. “I don’t see it fit to send her home, if she’ll go right back to (drugs),” Weipert said. “We worry that she’ll use, then (overdose) and then die. That weighs heavily on this court.” The woman will leave the nearly 50 women incarcerated at the jail and join more than 2,000 women imprisoned at state’s Women’s Huron Valley Correctional Facility in Ypsilanti.

“It’s true, if you look over time, that the women’s population is on the rise,” said Chirs Gautz, director of the Office of Public Information and Communication for the Michigan Department of Corrections. “Drugs were a big part of the growing female population.” As of September, the Women’s Huron Valley population was about 2,100. That’s the lowest number of inmates since 2013, so the population recently has been declining. But according to Gautz, the number of incarcerated women still is high.

The largest spike in the prison’s population within the past five years occurred from 2014 to 2015. The population rose by about 150 women, from 2,103 to 2,257. The women’s population at the Monroe County jail also saw a spike, but a year earlier. In 2013, the jail housed 46 women, and that number moved to 50 in 2014. The jail’s current female population is about 48. “I truly believe the 2014 spike was due to drugs,” said Maj. Troy Goodnough, jail administrator. “You’ve never dealt with women like you do now. They were never the offenders like they are now.”   [Source: BedfordNow]

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