We’ve reviewed the submissions and our committee has narrowed down the choices to these outstanding finalists for Investigator of the Year! This investigator is not just responsible for one great investigation, but is recognized for their consistency in being resourceful, and in the quality and execution of their performance as a whole. A partner and an innovator, this individual isn’t afraid to get their hands dirty in picking up each stone to see what might be underneath, and is more than comfortable in seeking out the answer when a question should arise.
To be eligible for nomination, the Investigator must currently be, or have been, in the role for which they are being nominated, for some or all of the calendar year of the nomination. Individuals must be nominated by someone other than themselves.
AND THE FINALISTS ARE…
FINALIST: Utah C.A.S.E Unit SSA Chris Walden
Chris Walden, at the direction of Utah State Attorney General Sean Reyes, led the creation of the state’s C.A.S.E Unit, which is primarily tasked with ORC cases throughout the state of Utah. Chris led an investigation presented by Home Depot which resulting in seven fencing operations being raided. The case was valued at $17 million and required the coordination of several agencies and recovered 42 pallets of stolen merchandise value at $1.5 million.
Drawing the attention of Mr. Reyes, Chris was then tasked with partnering with the state retail association and state legislation to write new laws protecting retailers and securing approval for a state-run task force. The task force, which was implemented in August, quickly accumulated more than $2.6 million dollars in cases across the state. The program has also drawn the attention of other state attorneys general, who are currently requesting the blueprints to this exceptional program, which could lead to nationwide acceptance of the initiative.
FINALIST: Anna Isabel Marquez and Ryan Puryear, CVS Health
Operation Proof of Purchase one of the largest organized retail crime cases ever recorded in the United States. The operation was part of a joint investigation with the Division of Law Enforcement’s White-Collar Investigation Team, the San Mateo County Sheriff’s Office’s Crime Suppression Unit, the California Highway Patrol, and the San Francisco County District Attorney’s Office. Approximately 100 law enforcement officers were involved in the investigation as part of the public-private task force. The retail side of the investigation found its roots with the organized retail crime team at CVS Health led in northern California by investigators Anna Isabel Marquez and Ryan Puryear.
All successful criminal investigations are based off real intelligence. During COVID-19, store reporting on external events at CVS skyrocketed as employees monitored customer behaviors. Working from home, Marquez and Puryear vetted all the increased intelligence and identified which subjects were linked to criminal organizations. These subjects were eventually identified with unprecedented cooperation from property and economic crimes detectives that were also working from home.
Multiple arrests were made and a mountain of health and beauty products were seized from several locations throughout the San Francisco Bay area that ultimately resulted in a $50 million case against a sophisticated organized retail crime operation that had been targeting retailers in the Bay area for several years. More than $8 million in stolen product was recovered.
This case—and these investigators exemplify the critical relationship between store employees, company investigators, and the law enforcement community in resolving these industry-defining investigations. Their efforts and commitment should be applauded by the entire loss prevention community.
FINALIST: Adam Labanosky, Global Investigator II, Walmart
Adam makes a huge difference for within the asset protection teams, in the stores, and company-wide. He has helped track down nation-wide organized retail crime groups, put together excellent cases to help prosecute criminal suspects, and directly contributed to the recovery of major losses. His work ethic and cooperation are exceptional, he is open to any question called, emailed, or texted from the store teams, and always willing to help out our law enforcement partners as well. I can’t say enough about him!
FINALIST: Michael Murphy: Retail Business Services/Ahold Delhaize USA
Michael Murphy services multiple grocery retailers such as Hannaford Supermarkets, Stop and shop, Food Lion and Giant Foods. Michael has always been a great partner in training store personnel regarding organized retail crime and the impact it has on company’s bottom line. He has been a mentor for many and has supported in closing out many high dollar cases in the New York region. Most recently Michael was involved in a credit card/fencing case where he closed out the case for over $18k. His partnership with NY State Police led to the arrest of three individuals, recovered guns, $20,000 cash seizure, multiple stolen credit cards recovered and thousands of dollars of product from a fence location. His swift response to the case, unbelievable partnership with store leadership, and his ability to work with local police was amazing to watch, resulting in the case being closed so quickly. He provides an outstanding example for living the values of an investigator and our company by demonstrating care, humor, and integrity.
FINALIST: Timothy Kicha, Bloomingdales
Throughout the course of 2020, Bloomingdale’s Asset Protection Manager, Tim Kicha led a successful and effective internal investigations program against all odds. Despite the most challenging year of his career, Tim helped manage the response to civil unrest and supported the organization with their standards of a safe socially distanced work environment. Tim’s finest moment this year was a direct result of his efforts in leading investigations. He displayed his inquisitive investigation skills by either initiating the investigations or through his awareness education with the store population. Tim managed the investigation programs of three separate locations cross-divisionally, including our Flagship Store. To bring it full circle, Tim interviewed and closed almost every investigation for the New York City Region in 2020. He would be the first to tell you, this is his favorite part of his job. The results were astonishing, with a recovery of over $450,000 in losses.
These cases prevented loss in the broad spectrum of our business, impacting fraud, cash shortages and inventory levels. His consistent partnership with law enforcement, vendors, retailers, and store leadership displays his commitment to collaboration for impact through investigations. Tim’s dedication to the success of our investigations program and commitment to developing his staff into the next generation of strong and innovative investigators, make him our Investigator of the Year.
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