Breaking News in the Industry: December 19, 2017

shoplifting penalties

Shoplifting suspect fires gun outside department store

Two shoplifting suspects are being sought, including one who fired a gun about 50 feet outside the Nordstrom at the Cherry Creek Shopping Center in Colorado on Sunday night, the Denver Police Department said. Loss prevention associates attempted to stop a man and a woman in relation to a theft just before 7:30 p.m., police said. As they fled, the man fired one shot at the LP personnel. No one was hit. The man left the scene in a dark-colored Kia Spectra. No license plate was provided. The male suspect was described as Hispanic, 18 to 21 years old and 5-foot-6. He was wearing a black coat, black pants and red shoes. His hair was tied in two buns. The female was described as Hispanic, 5-foot-6 and 170 pounds. She was wearing a gray coat and blue jeans. Anyone with information is asked to call Denver Metro Crime Stoppers at 720-913-7867.  [Source: Fox31 Denver]

Former employee sentenced to jail for stealing from store

A Searsmont, Maine, man who stole approximately $20,000 from Home Depot during the nine months he was employed at the store, was sentenced Dec. 14 to five years in jail. Kenneth Cox, 45, was convicted of theft by deception and two counts of theft. His full sentence includes five years in jail with all but 60 days suspended and will serve two years of probation after his release.  Cox was also ordered by the court to pay the remaining balance $8249.99 in restitution to Home Depot. He began making monthly restitution payments to the business in May 2016, as part of a deferred disposition agreement between the state and defense. According to the court document, Cox stole nearly $20,000 in store merchandise from Home Depot between April 2014 and January 2015. He used his credit card to buy the merchandise and then submitted returns for the items to obtain store credit, without actually returning the items. He was arrested by Rockland Police in June 2015. [Source: Penobscot Bay Pilot]

Fifteen stolen purses allegedly found in hit and run suspect’s car

A 26-year-old woman was arrested in the theft of 15 designer handbags at the Woodlands, Texas, Mall Macy’s store Saturday and arrest warrants were issued for her two alleged accomplices. Montgomery County deputies arrested Maria Rangel. The deputies were alerted when she struck another car in the mall parking lot as she sped away. She kept on driving, but was stopped on the ‘ring road’ around the mall and taken into custody. In the trunk of her SUV, deputies found the 15 Michael Kors handbags with price tags still attached. The value of the stolen purses was set at $4,700. According to the sheriff’s office, store video shows the theft as it happened. The women are said to have used wire cutters to remove the handbags from security cables. The sheriff’s office stated that the accomplices were identified and arrests warrants issued. Rangel is charged with failure to stop and give information following the hit and run collision. No one was injured in that crash. She is also charged with felony possession of stolen property.  [Source: ABC13 Eyewitness News]

Six women and man with a baby rob jewelry store [Viral Video]

Police are asking for the public’s help as they continue to search for the thieves caught on camera, stealing from Sohna Jewelers and Fabric store. Six women, a man, and a baby are seen on the surveillance video. They appear to be shopping, before they make the theft. Investigators said this happened Saturday afternoon at a shopping strip near Shaw and Mark Avenues in Fresno, California. The owner of the store did not want go on camera, but a close family friend of his said they are shocked by the alleged suspects elaborate act and with their surveillance video out, they hope police catch them. In daylight, you can see six women, dressed in middle eastern clothes, a man and a baby, looking at the items in the store. The owners friend said they actually made a purchase, buying a $125 ring. Gurdeep Shergill, a family friend of store owner, said. “They were standing here more people came, then somebody went back by the clothing and then some went over there, so they were going all over the store.”

Fresno Police said the elaborate ruse happened within minutes. Lt. Rob Beckwith, Fresno Police Department said, “Based on what we can see on the video they obviously planned this, they were working together.” This video shows what looks like some of women distracting the owner with items in the store. Meanwhile another sneaks behind the counter into the back room. Beckwith said, “That subject was able to take a significant amount of jewelry that was kept back there and then left out the back door to a waiting vehicle.” That vehicle, police said may be a dark colored van with paper plates and damage on the drivers side. While it remains unclear how much the jewelry was worth, the store owner’s friend said it’s upsetting to the Punjabi American community. Shergill said, “Earn your living, this is a great nation and we can be anything we want, you don’t need to steal from people, you don’t need to rob people.” Again, police are asking if anyone recognizes the people in the video or has any information to call police or Crime Stoppers at 498-STOP.  [Source: YourCentralValley]

How retail brands are curbing some sneaky fraud this holiday season

When you first see headlines about 22 employees being arrested at a workplace, thoughts of white-collar embezzlement at an investment firm come to mind. But the large-scale employee arrest I’m referring to took place at a Southern California Walmart last month. The crime? Coupon fraud. These insiders apparently used fraudulent discounts at self-checkouts to receive large overages from the registers. And rather than taking the overage amounts in cash, they transferred the money onto gift cards to avoid suspicion. Fraud is rampant in the retail industry, especially during the holiday season, and the outcome is excruciatingly expensive to retailers of all sizes. Return fraud alone costs the industry billions of dollars. According to estimates published by Loss Prevention Magazine and the National Retail Federation (NRF), US retailers are projected to lose more than $9 billion in 2017 from fraudulent returns, and more than 5% of this year’s holiday season returns are expected to be fraudulent.

Retailers are always on the lookout for new ways to mitigate the ever-present fraud problem. While no company can avoid fraud altogether, here are a few last-minute, effective tactics that are changing the game for merchants 2017 and 2018.

Merge your returns database with your customer database: If you can’t reconcile a return claim with a given customer’s history, then there’s no way you can hope to identify potential fraudsters in time to stop suspicious transactions.

Use individualized promo codes and coupon limitations:Promo codes can be emailed to shoppers, provided via a landing page, distributed via print ads or even direct-mailed. With online retailers, codes are given to shoppers to enter at checkout for a discount. Local retailers sometimes incorporate a barcode with the promo code for scanning at a register.

Use rule-based discounts instead of coupon codes: Of course, one way to prevent fraudsters from overusing your promo codes is to not offer promo codes to begin with. This is why so many retailers favor rule-based discounts.

Don’t let your retail business get Grinched out of your holidays: While some fraud is inevitable during the holidays, your retail business certainly doesn’t have to be a sitting duck. The key to success is to understand how fraud works and take as many protective actions as possible. Through lots of preparation and a bit of creativity, you can have a profitable holiday season that leads to a prosperous new year — but at the least, you’ll be better prepared next time around. [Source: Forbes]

Couple made shoplifting a family affair

A man and woman from Henderson, North Carolina, were arrested after what police said was shoplifting at a Belk store in the Triangle Town Center shopping center and using one of their children to help. Shandalin Jacinta Person, 33, and Altarik Jamal Alston, 38, were charged with contributing to the delinquency of a minor along with felony larceny and conspiracy. According to police, Person took an anti-shoplifting device off a coat and gave it to her 9-year-old son to carry while they were in the store Saturday afternoon. The couple had collected $1,580 worth of “clothing jewelry and jackets,” the charges stated. Person was also charged with larceny by deactivating an anti-shoplifting device, which is a felony, resisting an officer by giving false information about one of the four children she and Alston had with them, and habitual larceny. Police said a computer check showed that Person had been convicted of misdemeanor larceny in Franklin County in 2015 and 2016 and twice this year. Habitual larceny is a felony charge.  [Source: The News&Observer]

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