Breaking News in the Industry: September 4, 2018

Suspect leads authorities on high-speed chase through 2 counties after shoplifting

Officials said a shoplifting suspect is in custody after leading investigators on a high-speed chase through North Carolina’s  Lincoln and Gaston counties. Investigators said Holly Dodson ran from her home near Stanley when officers went there to arrest her. They said she then led deputies on a five-mile chase. The North Carolina Highway Patrol said a trooper used a PIT (Pursuit Intervention Technique) maneuver to spin out Dodson’s car on Stockwood Drive. Officials said at least two patrol cars were damaged and Dodson resisted a trooper who was trying to arrest her. Troopers said she also hurled racial slurs at officers along the way. Dodson was taken into custody. Officials said she was wanted in an armed robbery on Mariposa Road.

Channel 9 spotted Dodson smiling in the back of a police car. Her bond is set at $100,000 for an incident that began with an accusation of shoplifting $23 worth of food. Four agencies, at some point, attempted to stop Dodson, but she refused to stop even after she was forced to. Dodson was combative with an officer trying to get her into a car to go the jail and had to push her into the backseat. “They know when the situation ends like this it’s not good for them,” Trooper Randall Pierce said.

Gastonia police said managers at the Quick Trip, across the street from the Gastonia Police Department, said she was shoplifting. After store workers approached her, she threatened to shoot them. “I never figured something would happen like that with a police station next door,” shopper Michael Machek said. Officers who arrived on the scene found her in her car in the parking lot. Police said Dodson refused to lower her window and insisted to talk to them with the window cracked. She then sped off on Broad Street, but police didn’t follow down the dead-end road because they were concerned about causing a disruption for parents who would soon drop off students at Wood Hill Elementary School.  Police also had Dodson’s address, but haven’t said what charges she will face.   [Source: WSOCTV9 News]

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Suspect in jewelry store burglary is caught trying to flee the country

A man who’s allegedly part of a band of thieves that’s suspected of stealing millions of dollars in jewelry from stores across California — including Siegel’s in Paso Robles — was arrested at the airport in Los Angeles while trying to flee the country, police said. Los Angeles and Santa Cruz police arrested Roman Petre, 28, of Anaheim on Aug. 24 at Los Angeles International Airport while he was trying to travel to Romania, according to a Paso Robles Police Department news release. Petre is thought to have been part of a group of six people accused of stealing items from Siegel’s Jewelry in March. During that burglary, five women and a man entered the 12th Street store just before it closed and distracted employees while stealing jewelry.

The group is suspected of stealing about $2 million in jewelry during burglaries throughout California, according to Cmdr. Steve Lampe. Lampe said the U.S. Department of Homeland Security notified Paso Robles police of Petre’s intent to leave the country. The department was then able to obtain a $1 million warrant for Petre’s arrest.Petre had been released on bail from a jail in Santa Cruz, where he was allegedly involved in another jewelry store burglary. He’s currently being held at Santa Cruz County Jail on suspicion of grand theft, first-degree burglary and conspiracy to commit a crime.

Two other women from the group of five thought to have been involved in the Paso Robles burglary have been identified as Loredana Velcu and Ancuta Poenaru, both of Anaheim. The identities of the other three women remain unknown. Anyone with information about Velcu or Poenaru’s whereabouts is encouraged to call the Paso Robles Police Department at 805.237.6464 or Crime Stoppers at 805.549.7867.    [Source: The Tribune]

Retailer has big plans to cash in on Toys R Us’ demise

Walmart is preparing for the first holiday season without Toys R Us with an aggressive plan to expand its assortment and lure shoppers to its stores and website. The retail giant said Thursday that it would expand its toy assortment by 30% in stores and 40% online, according to a press release. Among the new products will be “thousands of new and exclusive items from top brands” and the top 40 toys as rated by children (up from 25 last year), including from Barbie, Fisher-Price, Lego and others, Walmart said.

Along with the added products, what the retailer called its “broadest assortment of toys ever, Walmart is planning in-store events and demos. That includes a “National Play Day” on Sept. 8 in 1,500 Walmart stores that where kids can play with toys and pose for pictures. Online, the company said it will host “exclusive content from toy influencers for the first time.”   [Source: RetailDIVE]

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Loss prevention associate punched multiple times after stopping thief

A Menards loss prevention associate was punched by a thief multiple times Thursday afternoon after he stopped the thief outside of the company’s store in Wisconsin, officials said. Police said the suspect, a 35-year-old Madison man, is known to the victim because of his past retail thefts. When the LP associate , a 29-year-old man, stopped the suspect, who had allegedly loaded a backpack with tools and left the store.

After the associate grabbed the backpack, the suspect went up to the man and tried to grab his stuff. Police said the suspect said, “Give me my s— f—er.” The LP associate kept the bag, which contained stolen tools along with items for ingesting drugs, officials said. According to officials, a Madison Police Department detective saw the getaway car and tried to pull it over, but the driver sped off. The suspect has been identified, but still has not been found.  [Source: Channel 3000]

Four women arrested after department store burglary

Simi Valley, California, police arrested four women Wednesday evening in connection with a commercial burglary, officials said. Los Angeles residents Naira Houhannisyan, 52, Mariam Kirakosyan, 24, Mariam Avetisyan, 24, and Anoush Arakelyan, 46, were arrested sometime after 8:30 p.m. when a loss prevention associate at Kohl’s contacted police. zlp associate The LP associate reported that a possible burglary crew was present at the store. Simi Valley police responded but waited outside as the store employee continued to follow the group.

The suspects were detained once the exited and allegedly found to have taken more than $1,200 worth of merchandise. According to Simi Valley police, the women matched the descriptions of suspects who had reportedly been involved in another Kohl’s burglary that occurred recently in Los Angeles. All four women were booked into Ventura County jail on $20,000 bail on suspicion of felony conspiracy, although Houhannisyan and Arakelyan also face a count of felony burglary. Arakelyan was released on bond Thursday morning but is due back in court on Sept. 12. Houhannisyan, Kirakosyan and Avetisyan were due in court Friday.   [Source: VC Star]

Appeal of $19M Tiffany win could shift trademark law

Costco Wholesale Corp. hopes to escape a $19.3 million judgment that it willfully deceived customers into believing they were buying Tiffany rings. Win or lose, it could create new case law on the definition of counterfeiting and calculation of trademark infringement damages. The case presents a rare chance for a federal appeals court to parse the law’s broad, nebulous definition of counterfeiting… a more severe form of trademark infringement. Since most counterfeiting cases involve fly-by-night bad actors rather than established businesses like Costco, appeals are rare and case law is limited, lawyers told Bloomberg Law.

The warehouse giant’s appeal also could set new boundaries on how courts compute profit losses in trademark infringement cases. Tiffany & Co. convinced a lower court to reject Costco’s claimed profit margins on its ring sales and include a share of membership dues based on industry profit margins. Tiffany sued in 2013 over Costco’s ring sales, saying that by using “Tiffany” alone on signs in display cases, Costco confused customers into thinking the rings originated from Tiffany. Costco argued the signs simply referred to a Tiffany setting, a generic term in the industry.

The U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York sided with the luxury jeweler, calculated profit losses, and then tripled the figure under counterfeiting law to arrive at $11.1 million in profits. It also added a $8.25 million punitive damages award. The fact that Costco asked vendors to copy Tiffany designs and put the rings next to signs identifying actual brands of other luxury goods demonstrated bad faith, the court held.

Costco’s appeal to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, filed in September 2017, awaits the district court’s ruling on Costco’s post-judgment motion asking the court to alter its decision. Briefing on that motion concluded in October 2017. The appeals court could “expose some issues just lurking in Lanham Act laws, as well as some unresolved issues in Second Circuit case law,” Christine Haight Farley, an intellectual property law professor and trademark specialist at American University, told Bloomberg Law. “The newsworthiness of the case comes from not just the shocking award, but what this exposes about the way you can get profits awarded,” she added. “Costco got no sympathy from the judge or the jury.”  [Source: Bloombe4-rg Law]

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