Breaking News in the Industry: October 18, 2018

Hidden thieves steal $50-100K in jewelry after store closes

It’s a heist straight out of a movie. A person hides in a store until it closes, then steals tens of thousands of dollars in jewelry. This happened at the Kmart in Scott Depot, West Virginia, one that is closing in less than six weeks. Investigators said it could be related to a similar burglary at a Kmart in Charleston.

Shoppers said it’s another good reminder to not shop at night… even at a place where signs declare everything must go. But while deals are great, that doesn’t mean it’s legal to take things for free. However, Putnam County deputies said that’s exactly what at least one thief did after closing on Saturday, hiding in the store, then stealing anywhere from $50,000 to $100,000 worth of jewelry, finally running out a side door about 2:45 Sunday morning, triggering an alarm.

“That’s sad, really that somebody would have to do that,” said shopper Lauren Napier. “That’s crazy. I can’t believe the world we live in sometimes,” adds shopper Debra Jarvis. Investigators are looking at surveillance video to try to get a clear picture of the thief.  One thing everyone agrees on is the sadness that Nov. 25 is the last day this store will ever open for business, especially as parent company Sears declares bankruptcy just one day earlier. Now there’s $100,000 less merchandise to choose from. “It makes me really sad, it really does,” Starcher said. “It’s painful. It’s hard to see so many things that have been a normal part of our life,” Jarvis added. Putnam investigators are still reviewing surveillance video to locate the thief.    [Source: WSAZ NewsChannel3]

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Socialite and author who documented rag-to-riches tale takes plea in shoplifting

Socialite and novelist Suzanne Corso wrote the last chapter in her shoplifting bust at Saks Fifth Avenue by copping a plea on Tuesday. The Bensonhurst-born writer agreed to a disorderly conduct charge two months after stuffing Yves Saint Laurent wallets, a dress and pants in her bag and leaving the upscale department store in lower Manhattan.

Corso, who’s documented her rags-to-riches story, was charged with petty larceny and possession of stolen property after she was caught trying to leave the store with the loot on Aug. 29. But on Tuesday in Manhattan Criminal Court, she only had to admit to being “disorderly” with the loss prevention associate at the high end retail store.

She will pay a $100 fine and do three days of community service and must stay trouble-free for a year as part of her deal. “I’m grateful that the prosecutor’s office agreed to withdraw the larceny charges and accepted a plea bargain for my client being merely disorderly with the security officer,” her lawyer Vincent Martinelli said. The “Brooklyn Story” author parted from her financier husband last year. Corso has claimed that they lost $100 million in the 2008 financial market crash. [Source: NY Daily News]

Apple launches portal for US users to download their data

Apple on Wednesday began allowing users in the US to download a copy of all of the data that they have stored with the company from a single online portal. The Cupertino, California-based technology giant previously rolled out that functionality in Europe as part of the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation rules that kicked in earlier this year. US users will be able to download data such as all of their address book contacts, calendar appointments, music streaming preferences and details about past Apple product repairs. Previously, customers could get their data by contacting Apple directly.

In May, when Apple first launched the online privacy portal, it only allowed US users to either correct their data or delete their Apple accounts. In recent years, Apple has taken steps toward greater consumer data transparency. Earlier this year, it added messages across its apps that tell users how their data is being handled. The company is also rolling out an updated privacy page on its website today detailing what data it does and does not store.   [Source: Bloomberg]

Woman robbed store while kids waited in vehicle

A Texas woman has been arrested for robbing a store while her children were waiting in the vehicle, Laredo police said. Blanca Perez, 24, was arrested Friday following a traffic violation in the intersection of Salinas Avenue and Frankfort Street. She was then found to be in possession of narcotics, according to police. Authorities charged her with two counts of possession of a controlled substance.

Authorities also discovered she had two warrants for her arrest. She was charged with robbery and abandonment, endangerment of a child with intent to return. The robbery and child abandonment cases date back to Sept. 20 when police responded to a theft report in the 600 block of Park Street. The complainant stated to police that Perez tried to steal food from the store, according to LPD. Perez became aggressive when confronted, police said.

A struggle ensued between Perez and the complainant, who had visible bruising following the robbery, according to LPD. Authorities reviewed surveillance footage. The recording showed Perez leaving her children alone in the car during the robbery, police said.   [Source: LMTonline]

Pawn shop owner caught fencing stolen merchandise heads to prison

A Michigan man will spend at least two years in prison in a retail fraud scheme that prosecutors say involved selling merchandise stolen from big box stores, including ones in Canton Township. Antony P. Wojtala was sentenced this month by Wayne County Circuit Judge Deborah Thomas to between two and seven years in prison on a charge of using a computer to commit a crime. He was also given two sentences of one to five years each, for charges of organized retail crime, but those are to run concurrently with the longer sentence.

Wojtala had pleaded no contest to all three charges in September. In return, 19 other charges, including one count of conducting a criminal enterprise and multiple counts of receiving and conceal stolen property, were dismissed. He was also ordered to close his Tony’s Pawn Shop and pay $6,550 in restitution. Maria Miller, spokeswoman for County Prosecutor Kym Worthy, said Wojtala has paid the restitution.    [Source: Hometown Life]

Fake goods are not fake news

Sales of counterfeit goods have never been easier as an increasing percentage of global commerce occurs online. Many consumers think only of fake designer handbags, clothing, and jewelry. Lesser known are counterfeit consumer electronics, including cell phones and accessories, video games, DVDs, and batteries, and counterfeit personal care and beauty products such as makeup, sunscreen, and shampoo. Even “man’s best friend” isn’t safe from counterfeit pet food, prescriptions, and pesticides.

Counterfeit goods pose serious threats to the health and safety of consumers. Take two examples: power accessories and makeup. A study by Electrical Safety First in the UK found a 98% safety test failure rate for counterfeit versions of a leading U.S. smartphone supplier’s chargers which pose a risk of fire, serious electric shock, or even electrocution. Over $700,000 worth of counterfeit makeup seized by the LAPD earlier this year was laced with high levels of bacteria and feces.

The US government fights counterfeits on many fronts. In 2017 alone, US Customs and Border Patrol seized counterfeit goods which, if genuine, would have been worth $1.2 billion. Local government agencies such as the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department also catch counterfeiters which I witnessed firsthand accompanying them on a raid of a warehouse to seize hoverboards bearing counterfeit UL Certification labels.

But these government actions aren’t enough to prevent dangerous and defective counterfeit products from finding their way into your home. The internet has provided a platform for counterfeiters to sell counterfeits directly to consumers through sites like Amazon and eBay. Despite strict anticounterfeiting policies on many e-commerce sites and vigilant policing by brand owners, removing counterfeit products is like a game of “whack a mole.”     [Source: Business Journal]

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