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Breaking News in the Industry: September 29, 2017

Three plead guilty; charges against Staten Island woman still pending in ORC case

Three men pleaded guilty to being members of a nationwide organized theft ring, but charges are still pending against a Staten Island woman, Attorney General Eric Schneiderman announced Tuesday. George Athanasatos, Robert Scarano and Joseph Pooler all pleaded guilty to being part of the crime operation that operated in New York and 27 other states. Tottenville resident Giovanna Bonello, 28, is still facing charges. “These guilty pleas, and the forfeiture of hundreds of thousands of dollars, mark a major victory in what was one of the largest-ever busts of a theft ring,” Schneiderman said in a statement. “Even as these schemes grow more complex and elaborate, we will continue to work closely with our partners in law enforcement to prosecute those who shortchange New York businesses and consumers.” The crew was allegedly led by Manhattan resident Richard Rimbaugh, 64, aka “The General,” and Athanasatos, 62, aka “The Field Marshall.”

Athanasatos will be sentenced to 3 1/2 to 7 years in prison and will forfeit $439,204.88 in illegal proceeds. Scarano will receive a sentence of 2 to 6 years in prison, while Pooler will be sentenced to 1 to 3 years. Law enforcement seized more than 5,300 stolen electronics and ink cartridges from Rimbaugh, the attorney general said. Prosecutors said each of the four theft crews operated with two or three people with specific roles, like captain, lieutenant or sergeant. Bonello was a sergeant, authorities said.   Officials allege the crews traveled across the country and often executed a series of retail thefts on a daily basis and then shipped the stolen merchandise to Rimbaugh’s apartment, where he prepared the merchandise for sale on Amazon and eBay. The year-long investigation — dubbed “Operation Sticky Fingers,” was conducted by the Attorney General’s Organized Crime Task Force with support from the New York State Police. [Source: SI Live]

Shoplifting NJ mom, son lied about missing child

A shoplifting scheme by a South New Jersey mother and her son ended with the pair in handcuffs.

 Police arrested 58-year-old Donna Hall and 30-year-old Nicholas Hall at a Walmart in Egg Harbor Township early Tuesday morning. Employees say Donna Hall claimed she couldn’t find her granddaughter. But officers quickly determined the missing child did not exist.

 They say she made up the story to distract employees so her son could shoplift.

Police say Nicholas Hall was caught on video, as employees looked for the missing child, filling Walmart bags with clothing and candy at the front of the store.

 Donna Hall was charged with Creating False Public Alarm and Shoplifting. Nicholas Hall was charged with Shoplifting, Hindering Apprehension, Possession of Heroin, and Possession of Drug Paraphernalia.  [Source: ABC6 Action News]

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Seven-year sentence for man in Good Samaritan stabbing

A North Hollywood, California, man entered a no-contest plea and was immediately sentenced to seven years in prison for stabbing a good Samaritan who went to the aid of a loss prevention associate who was trying to detain the defendant’s girlfriend for shoplifting at a supermarket in the Valley Village area. Richard Anthony Camacho, 25, entered his plea Tuesday to one count of assault with a knife and also admitted an allegation that he inflicted great bodily injury on the 70-year-old victim during the attack last November 21 at Gelson’s supermarket. The good Samaritan was stabbed multiple times in the neck and back after coming to the aid of a loss prevention associate trying to detain Camacho’s 22- year-old girlfriend, Emily Saado, after she was seen stealing items from the store, according to Deputy District Attorney Ranna Jahanshahi. Saado pleaded no contest to one count of assault by means of force likely to produce great bodily injury and was sentenced to two years in prison. [Source: North Hollywood Patch]

Shoplifting ring steals thousands from 2 stores [Photos]

The Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office in Florida wants to break up a shoplifting ring that’s targeted two Walmarts in the area. The ring was first spotted around 11:03 p.m. on September 3 at a Walmart located at 1208 E. Brandon Blvd. Deputies said four black females walked into the store, selected $4,756.08 worth of merchandise, removed their price tags and left the store without paying. They were seen leaving in a gold, 4-door 2006 Hyundai. Two days later, at 7:53 p.m., two of them entered the Walmart located at 4928 Hwy 674 in Wimauma, loaded $2,226.40 worth of merchandise into shopping carts and left the store again without paying. They were driving the same car. On September 19, 2017 at 12:26 p.m., three of them hit the same Walmart again and stole $3,486.50 worth of items. This time, they left in a dark-colored SUV or minivan.

The first suspect is described as a black female between the ages of 25 and 35. She is somewhere between 5’07”-5’11” tall. She has a tattoo on her right arm and was last seen wearing green yoga pants and a light tank top. The second suspect is described as a black female between the ages of 20 and 30. She is somewhere between 5’03”-5’07” tall. She was last seen wearing yoga pants, a gray top and a multicolored robe. The third suspect is a black female between the ages of 20 and 30. She is somewhere between 5’07”-5’10” tall. She has a heavy build, black hair and was last seen wearing a purple dress.The fourth suspect is described as a black female. No other details are available at this time. If you recognize these women, call the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office at 247-8200. To be eligible for a cash reward, call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-873-TIPS (8477).   [Source: News Channel8]

Rue21 emerges from bankruptcy with 420 fewer stores

Teen retailer rue21 has emerged from bankruptcy. On Friday, a federal bankruptcy court in Pennsylvania deemed the company’s reorganization plan effective after having confirmed it earlier in September. Rue21 filed for Chapter 11 in May. Out of Chapter 11, the retailer’s capital structure will include an asset-backed loan facility of $125 million (with about $39 million outstanding on exit) and an exit term loan facility of $50 million. That capital, as well as cash from operations, will be used to pay outstanding claims, according to court documents. The retailer’s secured and unsecured lenders now own most of the company, with their debt holdings converting to equity through the bankruptcy process. Rue 21 closed about 420 stores in bankruptcy. As of Sept. 11, it operated 758 stores in 45 states, mainly in malls and outlet or strip centers, according to a press release. “We are very pleased to have moved through the restructuring process in a relatively short period,” CEO Melanie Cox said in a statement at the time of the plan’s court confirmation. She added that the company has “performed consistently well ahead of its liquidity plan, and exceeded its second quarter target for Adjusted EBITDA by over 200%.”  [Source: RetailDRIVE]

Sonic data breach: Millions of credit, debit card numbers possibly stolen

Millions of credit and debit card numbers may have been stolen from Sonic Drive-In customers in a data breach. The cybersecurity website Krebs on Security was the first to report the apparent breach. The site found a batch of 5 million credit and debit card numbers for sale on a website. The numbers seem to be connected to a breach at Sonic, a fast-food chain, Krebs said. Sources also told Krebs of a pattern of fraudulent transactions on cards that had previously been used at Sonic locations. It’s unclear if all the cards for sale online are from Sonic customers or if some other fast-food eateries targeted by the same group of hackers are mixed in, Krebs said. Sonic acknowledged the potential breach in a statement. “Our credit card processor informed us last week of unusual activity regarding credit cards used at Sonic,” the company said, according to Krebs. “The security of our guests’ information is very important to Sonic. We are working to understand the nature and scope of this issue, as we know how important this is to our guests.” The firm said it is working with third-party forensic experts and law enforcement on the matter. It said it would communicate additional information as it is able. The investigation is still in its early stages and the company doesn’t yet know what locations were affected, a spokeswoman told Krebs. Sonic has over 3,500 locations in the U.S., and is based in Oklahoma City.  [Source:]

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Walmart wants to walk into your home and put groceries in your refrigerator

Walmart is testing a service that delivers groceries straight to your fridge when you’re not home. The retail giant announced a partnership with August Home, a smart-lock startup that would allow a delivery person to enter customers’ orders and put groceries away in their refrigerators. The test will take place in Silicon Valley with a small number of August Home users who have opted into the service. “Think about that… someone else does the shopping for you AND puts it all away,” Sloan Eddleston, Walmart’s vice president of e-commerce strategy and business operations, wrote in a blog post. Eddleston laid out the step-by-step process of “in-fridge delivery” in the post.

Delivery drivers will have a one-time passcode that allows them to unlock the August smart lock if customers do not answer the door when the delivery team arrives to drop off groceries. They will then drop off packages in the foyer, unload groceries in the fridge, and leave with the door locking behind them. Customers get a notification when the driver rings the doorbell. August home-security cameras allow them to watch the entire process from the app if they wish. Walmart has been making major investments in its e-commerce business as it faces off against an increasingly dominant Amazon. Online sales across Walmart grew 73% year over year in the second quarter of 2017, with grocery making up 26% of the company’s US e-commerce sales, according to Slice Intelligence data.  “What might seem novel today could be the standard tomorrow,” Eddleston said. “This may not be for everyone, and certainly not right away, but we want to offer customers the opportunity to participate in tests today and help us shape what commerce will look like in the future.”  [Source: Business Insider]

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