Employee charged with $14,000 theft
An employee of the Lowe’s Home Improvement store in Hackettstown, New Jersey, has been charged after allegedly taking more than $14,000 from the company through fraudulent transactions over a seven-month period. According to the Hackettstown Police Department, township resident Caroline Damus, 31, conducted numerous false return transactions at the store on Route 182 between Aug. 24, 2017, and March 13, 2018, totaling $14,033.92. Damus then used the money from the transactions to purchase gift cards from Lowe’s, the department said. The Hackettstown Detective Bureau began investigating the report on May 7, and on Aug. 24, Damus was charged with third-degree theft by unlawful taking. She was released pending a court appearance. [Source: New Jersey Herald]
Couple accused of stealing from retailer; fighting police
A couple is in police custody after allegedly stealing merchandise from a Kohl’s in Troy, Michigan. On August 29, Troy Police responded to a call from a Loss Prevention associates of two suspects who came to the store and allegedly stole $60 worth of items. When officers arrived to the scene, the suspects had entered a white Kia Optima and began driving northbound on John R Road. Police noticed the license vehicle plates had been reported stolen by Chesterfield Township Police. Officers attempted to box the driver in with their squad cars, but the suspect accelerated, hitting police and speeding off.
The pursuit pursued into the City of Madison Heights on Concord and Whitcomb. The driver pulled into a parking lot, the two suspects jumped out of the vehicle and took off running. The 30-year-old female suspect, Kristine Marchese, was arrested after found hiding behind a dumpster. Police found marijuana, two needles, a crack pipe and the stolen merchandise from Kohl’s. Marchese was charged with retail fraud and possession of marijuana, according to court officials. The male suspect, 35-year-old Kyle Eberhart, was arrested after attempting to punch an officer while being handcuffed. Police say the man was in possession of $229.99 worth of stolen property from the store. He was charged with two counts of resisting arrest and one count of receiving and concealing a vehicle. [Source: WXYZ Detroit News]
Google tapping Mastercard data on in-store purchases
Google and Mastercard have an ongoing partnership that gives the internet giant access to credit card usage data from 2 billion Mastercard holders to help it track purchases in physical stores that may have resulted from it online ads, according to a Bloomberg report. Google declined comment to Bloomberg about the partnership, but told the publication that its ad-tracking technology — a Store Sales Measurement capability in AdWords — incorporates encryption techniques that keep Google and its partners from seeing one another’s user data. Mastercard told Bloomberg that it shares only anonymous data with its merchant partners. Google reportedly has been working to bring more location-based and contextual offline shopping conversion data to its ad tools since at least 2014, and last year enhanced the Store Sales Measurement tool with machine learning capability to provide more refined analysis, according to a TechCrunch story at the time. [Source: RetailDIVE]
Two arrested, C-store closed after raid
A Mechanicsville convenience store in Tennessee is closed and its owner is behind bars after a raid by the Knox County Sheriff’s Office on Wednesday. Shortly before noon, KCSO cruisers and unmarked cars converged on Al’s Market and Deli, located at the intersection of University Avenue and Callaway Street. Detectives armed with a search warrant seized stolen goods, two guns, $2,000 in cash and a vehicle, according to a news release from the sheriff’s office.
Members of KCSO’s Organized Retail Crime Unit arrested Mohammed Jalal Issa, the owner of the store, and Rashad Srour. The pair face charges of felony theft, computer crimes and food-stamp fraud, according to the release. The raid came after an undercover officer learned Issa and Srour had encouraged people to use EBT cards to purchase certain items from stores, the release states. The pair allegedly paid in cash for the goods and then sold them at Al’s Market.
Issa and Srour are also accused of telling shoplifters which items to steal from stores, then purchasing those stolen goods with cash. State lottery representatives seized the store’s scratch cards, and an official with the Knox County Health Department closed Al’s Market… at least for now. The store is required to receive approval from the health department before it can reopen. The raid is the latest in a series of similar stings conducted on local businesses by the Organized Retail Crime Unit. The task force partners with retailers, Kroger, in this case, to crack down on businesses that authorities say perpetuate a cycle of shoplifting and drug abuse. [Source: Knox News]
No place like home: Dorothy’s ruby slippers recovered
The case of the missing red ruby slippers is closed. Minneapolis FBI agents and local law enforcement will hold a news conference Tuesday afternoon to announce they’ve recovered one of four known surviving pairs of ruby slippers worn by actress Judy Garland in the 1939 movie “The Wizard of Oz.” No details of the recovery were provided with the announcement of the news conference.
The famous slippers, worn by Garland’s character Dorothy as she clicked her heels and repeated “there’s no place like home,” have been missing since August of 2005, when they were stolen in a smash-and-grab burglary at the Judy Garland Museum in Grand Rapids, Minnesota. The slippers have eluded hunters since then, even with several enticing rewards. Law enforcement offered an initial $250,000 reward for information leading to the slippers, and in 2015, an anonymous donor from Arizona offered a $1 million reward to anyone willing to come forward with the location of the slippers and the name of the person who stole them.
The search took investigators to some strange locations. Volunteers dove into the Tioga Mine Pit mine in Itasca County four times in 2015 to search for the slippers but came up empty. In 2011, law enforcement searched the San Diego home of a man who claimed to have the slippers but ultimately was hiding the wrong pair. The missing slippers, which were insured for $1 million, have serial numbers and Garland’s name scrawled on the inside. The museum hired a private investigation firm in 2013 to continue working on the case. The other three remaining pairs are outside of Minnesota, located at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences, the Smithsonian and in a private collection. [Source: MPR News]