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Breaking News in the Industry: September 17, 2018

Four arrested in $130K retail fraud ring

Four people were arrested and an organized retail theft ring that defrauded Home Depot out of $130,000 was taken down following a one-year investigation in Gloucester Township, New Jersey, police said on Thursday. A search warrant was executed at the home of one of the accused on Mary Ellen Lane on Aug. 3, police said on Thursday. During the investigation, detectives identified 68-year-old Raymond L. Wylie, of Erial, as the leader of the ring that targeted Home Depot stores in Camden, Burlington and Gloucester counties.
 Steven R. Wylie, 62, of Atco; Neal C. Kendall, 57, of Clementon Borough; and Toscha L. Kendall-Cook, 50, of Clementon Borough, were also arrested in connection with this investigation, police said.
 Raymond Wylie is accused of organizing a ring that used stolen items and fake merchandise cards to conduct thousands of fraudulent sales transactions, police said. An undercover detective infiltrated the ring, selling power tools and merchandise cards to Raymond Wylie, who believed the items were stolen, police said.

During the search of the Mary Ellen Lane home detectives said they seized numerous store merchandise cards, stolen power tools, hundreds of Home Depot store receipts from fraudulent transactions and approximately $700 in cash. Raymond Wylie was charged with one count of second-degree leader of an organized retail theft enterprise; one count of second-degree conspiracy to be the leader of a retail theft enterprise; one count of second-degree conspiracy of the leader of a retail theft enterprise; one count of second-degree fencing; and one count of third-degree receiving stolen property. He was processed and remanded to the Camden County Correctional Facility. He was released with conditions while awaiting further court proceedings.

Kendall was charged with one count of second-degree leader of an organized retail theft enterprise; one count of second-degree conspiracy to be the leader of a retail theft enterprise; one count of second-degree conspiracy of the leader of a retail theft enterprise; one count of second-degree fencing; one count of third-degree shoplifting; one count of third-degree fencing; one count of third-degree possession of CDS; and one count of possession or use of an anti-shoplifting or inventory control device countermeasure. He was processed and remanded to the Camden County Correctional Facility, where he is being detained pending further court proceedings.

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Steven Wylie was charged with one count of second-degree conspiracy to be a part of an organized retail theft enterprise; one count of third-degree receiving stolen property; and one count of third-degree shoplifting. He was processed and remanded to the Camden County Correctional Facility. He was released with conditions while awaiting further court proceedings.

Kendall-Cook was charged with one count of third-degree shoplifting. She was processed and released on a criminal summons.
This investigation is ongoing, and police are looking to identify anyone else who might have been involved in this organized retail theft crew. Anyone who has additional information on this crime is asked to contact the Gloucester Township Police Special Investigations Unit at 856. 374.5708.

Gloucester Township police lead this investigation with the assistance of the Winslow Township Police Department, the New Jersey State Police — Interstate Theft South Unit, the Washington Township Police Department, the Waterford Township Police Department, the Cherry Hill Police Department, the Camden County Prosecutor’s Office Major Crimes Unit and the Corporate Loss Prevention Department of Home Depot Corporation.
 Detectives from the Gloucester Township Police Department’s Special Investigations Unit, the New Jersey State Police and the Camden County Prosecutor’s Office executed the search warrant at the home on Mary Ellen Lane.   [Source: Gloucester Township Patch]

Police arrest 5 in North Carolina as looters begin to capitalize on Florence chaos

Police in North Carolina arrested five people Saturday night as looters began to break into stores while Tropical Storm Florence brought chaos to the region. Wilmington Police confirmed the arrests on Twitter but did not immediately release the identities of the five individuals.  “Charges are pending and those details will be released as they become available,” police said. Authorities said about 1:30 p.m. they became aware of looting taking place at the Dollar General on 5th and Dawson Streets but were initially asked by management “not to intervene at this time.”  They later said on Twitter that they were working to identify the thieves and would “will charge them to the fullest extent of the law.”

In response to looting reports, the city of Wilmington extended its curfew for the affected area. A tweet spelled out the “In response to looting in the area, an extended curfew is now in place for the block between 13th, 14th, Greenfield and Martin Streets. This curfew went into effect at 5 pm and will remain in effect until 6 am. The citywide curfew will run from 10 pm until 6 am.” The National Hurricane Center said on Saturday afternoon that “catastrophic flooding” is expected in certain parts of the Carolinas as Florence remained stationary over the region.  [Source: Fox News]

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US retail sales post the smallest gain in 6 months

US retail sales recorded their smallest gain in six months in August as consumers cut back on purchases of motor vehicles and clothing, but upward revisions to July data likely keep intact expectations of strong economic growth in the third quarter. The Commerce Department said on Friday retail sales edged up 0.1 percent last month, the smallest rise since February. Data for July was revised higher to show sales rising 0.7 percent instead of the previously reported 0.5 percent gain.

The modest increase in retail sales suggests that high gasoline prices could be pulling spending away from other categories. Economists polled by Reuters had forecast retail sales increasing 0.4 percent in August. Retail sales in August advanced 6.6 percent from a year ago. Excluding automobiles, gasoline, building materials and food services, retail sales nudged up 0.1 percent last month after an upwardly revised 0.8 percent jump in July. These so-called core retail sales correspond most closely with the consumer spending component of gross domestic product.   [Source: CNBC News]

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Subject listed in RICO indictment, arrested with several others for shoplifting

Knoxville Police says a shoplifting call led to multiple arrests, including suspect wanted on Racketeering Charges from Hamilton County. Police were called September 10th around 9:30 p.m. Knoxville officers responded to a call to Walmart on Kinzel Way. The Walmart loss prevention team told police that he had 5 other shoplifters that were “operating together” and they were about to leave the store. Police say they found them in possession of a “felony amount of merchandise.” Knoxville police say the first suspect left the store and acted as a “lookout.” They say the suspects discarded their items and fled out the emergency exits, but were later apprehended.

Dimesha Kirk, of Chattanooga, is facing several charges including, Burglary, Evading Arrest, Criminal Trespassing, Fugitive from Justice, and Fugitive from Justice (Bartow Co, GA). Back in April, Chattanooga Police arrested Kirk on the RICO charges.  Police say Kirk was facing outstanding charges of Racketeering Enterprise, Racketeering Conspiracy and Shoplifting from Bartow Co, Georgia. Linda Green, of Chattanooga, is charged with Felony Theft. Keoshia Starling, of Chattanooga, is facing charges for Burglary, Criminal Impersonation, Criminal trespassing and Fugitive from Justice (Bartow, Co, GA). Starling’s outstanding charges including, Burglary, Theft, Criminal Trespassing, Criminal Impersonation and Felony Shoplifting (Bartow Co, GA). Dutchess Lykes, Homeless, is facing a Burglary and Criminal Trespassing charge. Kylia Bailey, of Chattanooga, is facing a Burglary and Criminal Trespassing charge.   [Source: WDEF News12Now]

Postal worker stole over 6,000 greeting cards and cash; caught with booby-trapped envelope

A US Postal Service delivery worker has pleaded guilty to the theft of thousands of greeting cards containing checks and cash. Wisconsin woman Ebony Smith was caught red-handed by the Postal Inspection Service earlier this year, Fox6Now revealed Wednesday. The outlet obtained details from a plea agreement which accused Smith of stealing money, checks and gift cards while on her route. Smith, who has not yet been sentenced, pleaded guilty to federal charges this week. It is believed the postal service worker targeted residents of Wisconsin’s Washington Highlands. She admitted to taking between $50 to $100 every week from victims as part of the scheme.

On July 24, the perpetrator’s Honda Odyssey was towed to a scrapyard in Milwaukee. There, officials found it contained a whopping 6,625 greeting card envelopes and 540 personal checks. Fox6Now obtained an image showing the massive pile of hijacked personal correspondence. The material was dated to between March last year and January this year, officials found. A probe into thefts was launched after residents in Wauwatosa reported their mail was not being delivered. In January this year, a sting operation was set up, intended to catch Smith in the act. It worked.

Investigators found a blue envelope they had planted which contained a $20 bill had been raided. The envelope contained a transmitter that triggered when opened. When the delivery woman was approached on her route, authorities discovered a bag containing 31 greeting cards. Close to the front seat of her vehicle was another 23 cards, Fox6Now said. It remains unclear how long the scheme was in operation and what sentencing may be. The United States Postal Service did not immediately respond to a request for comment.   [Source: Newsweek]


Younger shoppers love these companies the most

Retailers need to pay attention to younger shoppers and where they’re spending money, because those destinations are constantly changing. Millennial and Gen Z shoppers in 2018 are flocking to the likes of Victoria’s Secret, Sephora, Nike and Nordstrom to shop, according to the 2018 Love List Brand Affinity Index compiled by Goldman Sachs and Conde Nast.

Millennials are defined as those people born between 1981 and 1996, according to the Pew Research Center. Gen Z shoppers are typically referred to as those consumers born thereafter. As time passes, these generations are expected to make up an even larger share of the U.S. population.

Luxury brands led by Gucci joined the list this year as millennials and Gen Z turn away from low-quality fast fashion. Nordstrom also benefited from the shift in consumer tastes, jumping five spots from last year.   [Source: CNBC News]

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