Breaking News in the Industry: October 23, 2018

Officer attacked during arrest; two charged in thefts

One of the men also faces a wanton endangerment charge after attacking a police officer and biting a bystander while being arrested. An arrest citation for 36-year-old Anthony Merriman says that the loss prevention team at a Kentucky Kroger saw him head past the cash registers and toward the door with a cart carrying over $1,000 dollars in merchandise.

When Lexington police questioned Merriman, he reportedly shoved the officer into a wall, and tried to leave the store. A struggle ensued, with a bystander putting Merriman into a choke hold. The arrest citation says Merriman bit the bystander and grabbed the officer’s taser. The citation also says Merriman shouted repeatedly that he had a gun. Merriman was eventually subdued, but police say he tried to give officers a bogus social security number while they were trying to identify him.

Only a few minutes later, a second arrest occurred in the parking lot of that Kroger. Officers say they found Pleys Hullett in a car with over $1,000 dollars’ worth of merchandise that had been recently reported stolen from the Kroger. They also found drugs and drug paraphernalia in the car. He was taken into custody without incident.   [Source: WKYT News]

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Duo accused of shoplifting from department store

Two Miami, Florida, women were arrested Saturday after deputies said they stole dozens of items from a department store in Key Largo. Midelys Rodriguez, 46, and Odekys Naranjo, 47, face charges of grand theft. Adam Linhardt, a spokesman for the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office, said the loss prevention staff at the Bealls Outlet observed Rodriquez and Naranjo placing items in a bag and leaving the store without paying.

Deputies were waiting for the women as they left the store. Linhardt said Rodriguez and Naranjo stole 46 items, including jewelry, beauty products and clothing, worth about $380. Linhardt said Rodriguez and Naranjo took a tool from behind the store’s counter that removes theft prevention tags.   [Source: Local10 ABC News]

Retailers flummoxed about how to handle ‘serial returners’

Amazon’s announcement in May that it would institute a lifetime ban for customers that habitually return merchandise is influencing retailers of all sizes to mull similar policies, in light of their own rising problem of escalating returns, according to a report from omni-channel retail management firm Brightpearl. Some 61% of U.S. retailers say they’d ban so-called “serial returners” permanently, while fewer than one-quarter are not inclined to.

Over a third of U.K. retailers and 42% of U.S. retailers say that they’re seeing more serial returners in the last 12 months, especially among customers aged 18 to 34, where over a third admit to buying more items than they intend to buy, (under a third in the other age groups say that), according to the report.

One-fifth of respondents aged 18 to 24 say that they would never shop with a retailer that imposed such a penalty, Brightpearl found. But deficiencies in assessing serial returns, a lack of transparency about return policies and return tracking, and consumer expectations about e-commerce are confounding the ability of retailers to fashion effective strategies, according to the report.  Some 44% of retailers say that they don’t have the technology to identify serial returners and another 15% don’t know if their technology could identify them.   [Source: RetailDIVE]

Two accused of third offense shoplifting

One person was arrested on shoplifting and other related charges around 4 p.m. Oct. 8 at Macy’s at the Huntington Mall in Florida. The suspect was identified as Austin Jeffreys, 24. He was charged with shoplifting, obstructing and forgery of document.According to the police report, the suspect was observed by a Macy’s employee selecting merchandise and concealing it on his person. The suspect allegedly wore a pair of Timberland boots out of the store. A total of $546.47 in merchandise was reported stolen by Macy’s.

The suspect was apprehended and transported to the Macy’s Loss Prevention Office, where the suspect provided police with false information, including a fake name, Dairian Howard. He was placed under arrest and transported to BPD for booking and processing, where he was properly identified and previous shoplifting convictions from Sept. 30 and Oct. 2 were discovered.

Tabatha Gardner, 28, was charged with third-offense shoplifting and trespassing. According to the report, a Macy’s employee observed the suspect conceal a total of $256 worth of merchandise on her person and exit the store without paying. The suspect had previous shoplifting convictions from Oct. 4, 2017, and was trespassed from Macy’s April 4, 2009. Gardner was transported to Western Regional Jail on a $15,000 bond.  Jeffreys was taken to Western Regional Jail.   [Source: The Herald-Dispatch]

Police officer charged with retail theft now in jail

A South Bend, Indiana, police officer who was placed on unpaid leave after the prosecutor’s office filed charges against him for allegedly switching price tags at Walmart – is now in the St. Joseph County jail. Brandon Jones has been charged with theft, a class A misdemeanor, and delivery of a false sales document, a level 6 felony. On September 25, a loss prevention associate at the Walmart on Ireland Road in South Bend watched on video as Jones scanned several items at the self-checkout lanes. An item of Notre Dame apparel rang up as ‘pie pumpkin’ for $2.98, reports said. The loss prevention associate then watched as Jones scanned items including mixed fruit, an air freshener and a container of raspberries. All rang up as either “pie pumpkin” or “mini-pumpkin,” according to the probable cause affidavit.

While he was continuing his transaction, the assets protection officer reviewed video of Jones in the store. She said the video showed Jones picking up pumpkins, walking to his shopping cart, doing something to the pumpkins, then returning the pumpkins to the display, according to reports. After Jones walked past all points of sale, the assets protection associate and assets protection supervisor approached Jones and asked him to return with them to the assets protection office with them, reports said. While inside the office, the assets protection officer created two receipts, one showing the total amount Jones rang up and the other showed the total amount of all items with their actual price. The difference between the two receipts was a loss of approximately $66, according to the probable cause affidavit. Jones identified himself as a South Bend Police officer and asked for the incident to remain confidential, reports said. The assets protection officer called South Bend Police.

An officer arrived and spoke with Jones. Jones claimed the incident was “a little misunderstanding.” He said when he picked up the items they already had their price tags switched, reports said. The responding officer watched Walmart’s footage of Jones in the produce department taking the pumpkins to his cart and returning them to the display, reports said. After the charges were filed, an arrest warrant was issued for Jones. He turned himself in Thursday morning and was booked into the St. Joseph County Jail where he will be held until his bond hearing.

The South Bend Police Department issued the following statement:
“South Bend Police Chief Scott Ruszkowski requested the Indiana State Police investigate a South Bend officer after he was stopped for an incident that took place in a retail store on September 25, 2018. With these charges announced by the St. Joseph County Prosecutor’s Office, the Board of Public Safety has placed Officer Brandon Jones on unpaid leave pending the outcome of criminal proceedings and an internal investigation. There will be no further comment as this remains an active case and investigation.”    [Source: ABC57 News]

Hi, tech: Retailer announces new high-tech grocery distribution center

In the coming weeks, Walmart will be breaking ground on a new project, and the result will be, well, groundbreaking. Shafter, California, will be the home of Walmart’s first high-tech distribution center for fresh and frozen groceries. What does that mean exactly? A traditional distribution center, or DC, is the hub where products like eggs and strawberries are received. From there, associates load goods onto trucks and deliver them to your local Walmart store or Sam’s Club. DCs are a key part of Walmart’s supply chain. As Walmart transforms to better serve customers, the question is, what does the distribution center of the future look like?

Simply put, it looks more efficient, with forward-looking technology and engaging tech-focused jobs. Set to open fall 2020, this innovative DC in Shafter will use WITRON technology to process grocery perishables – produce, eggs, dairy, flowers and frozen goods. How? Rather than manually stacking boxes and building pallets, the new DC will allow associates to use the new technology to do the (literal) heavy lifting. Cool story, but what if those machines put a watermelon on top of a case of tender, beautifully ripened strawberries?

Shayne Wahlmeier, one of the engineers on the project, described the plan to keep this from happening. “Every product is measured and documented so that we know how to handle it,” he explained. “A computer algorithm shows all the cases ordered for a given store and determines how to palletize them to maximize the space on a pallet or trailer. It also takes into account density – what’s crushable, what’s not.” Sort of like the game of Tetris, but with apples and ice cream.   [Source: Walmart News]

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