Breaking News in the Industry: November 8, 2018

active threat response

Woman charged in robbery; accomplice brandished gun

A Clifton, New Jersey, woman helped rob a Walmart in Bayonne early Sunday morning during which her accomplice threatened a worker with a gun, authorities said. Unique M. Daymon, 22, and Seth D. Hoffman, 30, of Jersey City, were confronted by a loss prevention associate (LPA) when they tried to leave the store on Route 440 after being seen shoplifting nearly $450 in merchandise, Bayonne police said. The loss prevention associate demanded they return the items, police said.

The pair bolted and drove off in a car, police said. Hoffman was driving, and Daymon was a passenger, said authorities. Cops found a loaded and defaced handgun, ammunition, and marijuana in Hoffman’s possession. Officers also recovered goods swiped from Walmart in the vehicle. The suspects were arrested shortly before 2 a.m., said police. Daymon and Hoffman were both charged with felony counts of robbery and conspiracy. Hoffman is also accused of weapon possession for an unlawful purpose, plus other weapon charges and marijuana possession, police said.   [Source: SIlive.com]

Employee sells $150K in stolen merchandise on eBay

An Iowa man accused of stealing thousands of dollars worth of merchandise from Nordstrom was charged with theft Tuesday. According to the criminal complaint, police were notified of the theft between Thursday and Monday by the loss prevention team at Nordstrom. The complaint said a loss prevention associate told police that Gary G. Black, 54, a Nordstrom employee, was taking merchandise from the business.

Through their investigation, police said they learned Black had taken merchandise valued at more than $6,200 and placed it in his vehicle. Additionally, police said Black had more than $7,000 in cash. When questioned, Black admitted to “committing a continuing series of thefts from the company and selling the stolen property on eBay.” Black estimated the sum total of his theft was around $150,000. He is charged with first-degree theft, a Class C felony.   [Source: The Gazette]

Retailers go head-to-head for holiday shoppers

Walmart will be rolling out a program that allows its staff to check out customers and provide receipts right on the spot in the busiest sections of the store. The new service is for customers who have a few items and want to check out quickly. Staff, armed with mobile devices and Bluetooth printers, will help customers pay by swiping their credit card and provide them with a paper or electronic receipt. The moves come as Walmart, like other retailers, look for ways to speed up the checkout process, a source of frustration for shoppers.

One other source of frustration for those who prefer online shopping are the shipping fees. Amazon is following Target and temporarily dropping the minimum amount shoppers need to spend to qualify for free shipping. Typically, Amazon shoppers need to spend $25 to qualify for free shipping or pay $119 a year for a Prime membership. Amazon’s offer, which started Monday, applies to hundreds of millions of items and on orders that arrive in time for Christmas. Shoppers who aren’t Prime members will get slower shipping, though, which can take five to eight days.

Retailers are competing head-to head for holiday shoppers, who increasingly expect fast shipping that’s free. Target dropped its  minimum purchase amount last week, offering free two-day shipping on hundreds of thousands of items until Dec. 22. Walmart, which offers free two-day shipping on orders over $35, told reporters after the Target announcement that it has no plans to change its shipping policy. Amazon also said Monday that it has expanded the number of items and locations where Prime members can get free same-day delivery.  [Source: Fox35 News]

LP has knife pulled on them

A woman from Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, was arraigned Tuesday on charges she threatened LP associates with a knife after fleeing a downtown department store with stolen merchandise and then hid the weapon in a body cavity. City police said the incident took place in a courtyard on the campus of Wilkes University where Boscov’s loss prevention associates pursued Alissa K. Wright, 37.

According to a criminal complaint, three LP prevention associates followed Wright after she stole items from the store. Wright pulled a knife, telling the security officers she was going to “(expletive) kill” them, stab them and slice their throats. She also claimed she had a gun and was going to shoot them.

Wright extended her arm while holding the knife and charged at the LP associates, who retreated behind a bicycle rack. Wright ran through a Wilkes University-owned building on South Franklin Street and exited a door to a courtyard. She hid behind a brick wall when she heard police sirens. She then removed her shoes behind the brick wall and ran toward West South Street, where an officer found her squatting on the sidewalk. She claimed she needed medical attention because she was bleeding but the officer did not see blood. She also claimed she was pregnant.Police re-traced Wright’s escape path and did not locate the knife, but syringe was found in a handbag Wright carried. An X-ray revealed Wright concealed the knife in a body cavity.    [Source: Times Leader]

Grand jury indicts on vandalism spree

A Bullhead City, Arizona, man was indicted on 10 criminal charges in connection with a vandalism spree. A Mohave County grand jury indicted Dean Martin Randall, 30, on charges of aggravated assault, third-degree burglary, robbery, shoplifting, organized retail theft, three felony counts of criminal damage and two misdemeanor counts of criminal damage.

Randall is expected to be arraigned on the charges Monday before Superior Court Commissioner Billy Sipe Jr. The defendant is being held in Mohave County Jail in Kingman on a $10,000 bond. On Oct. 26, Randall was walking north on Highway 95 when he allegedly threw rocks at several businesses including a dentist’s office, Perkins Restaurant, Harbor Freight Tools and a wig shop, smashing glass doors and windows and causing significant damage. Randall also entered Safeway grocery store and allegedly stole 67 makeup items and damaged a set of doors. He then entered a food mart and allegedly stole a dress, then assaulted a store clerk, who tried to stop him, Bullhead City police reported. Randall fled into the desert where he allegedly hid the stolen items. He was arrested at his mother’s Bullhead City home.

Randall had been arrested June 30 for disorderly conduct for an alleged incident at a Bullhead City Starbucks. He was again arrested July 17 at Bullhead Community Park on suspicion of indecent exposure for allegedly exposing himself to a 9-year-old girl.    [Source: Mohave Valley Daily News]

Facial recognition vs ‘gait’ recognition

Chinese authorities have begun deploying a new surveillance tool, “gait” recognition software that uses people’s body shapes and how they walk to identify them, even when their faces are hidden from cameras. Already used by police on the streets of Beijing and Shanghai, gait recognition is part of a push across China to develop artificial-intelligence and data-driven surveillance that is raising concern about how far the technology will go.

Huang Yongzhen, the CEO of Watrix, said that its system can identify people from up to 50 meters (165 feet) away, even with their back turned or face covered. This can fill a gap in facial recognition, which needs close-up, high-resolution images of a person’s face to work. “You don’t need people’s cooperation for us to be able to recognize their identity,” Huang said in an interview in his Beijing office. “Gait analysis can’t be fooled by simply limping, walking with splayed feet or hunching over, because we’re analyzing all the features of an entire body.”

Chinese police are using facial recognition to identify people in crowds and nab jaywalkers, and are developing an integrated national system of surveillance camera data. Not everyone is comfortable with gait recognition’s use. Shi Shusi, a Chinese columnist and commentator, says it’s unsurprising that the technology is catching on in China faster than the rest of the world because of Beijing’s emphasis on social control. “Using biometric recognition to maintain social stability and manage society is an unstoppable trend,” he said. “It’s great business.”   [Source: AP News]

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