The nature of our role in loss prevention forces us to focus on many of the negative aspects often associated with social media. From the malware that slows our computers and corrupts our systems, to the spiders that grab our information and track our habits, to the criminal elements looking for ways to steal identities and breach company servers, we regularly face the worst of the digital community. When not focused directly on the sludge of society, we often center our attention on looking for strategic means to reveal and battle these adversaries, protecting the precious resources that sustain our customers and support the business.
But there are also many positives that genuinely deserve our accolades and appreciation. Information that once took an eternity to gather is now right at our fingertips. Opportunities to communicate that could only be imagined only a few short years ago are now commonly used to reach those that share our lives—whether friends, family, or business partners. We’ve opened the door to countless possibilities that touch the way that we conduct business, buy and sell goods, perform job responsibilities, and generally build our personal lives and professional careers. But there are other advantages as well, and those prospects are equally deserving of our thoughts and attention. Bringing all of us together to overcome some of our greatest challenges is certainly one of those benefits.
ALS Ice Bucket Challenge
Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), commonly known as Lou Gehrig’s disease, is a rapidly progressive, invariably fatal neurological condition that attacks the nerve cells responsible for controlling voluntary muscles. It is one of the most common neuromuscular diseases worldwide, and people of all races and ethnic backgrounds are affected.
Over the past several weeks, the Ice Bucket Challenge™ has quite literally “soaked” the nation. Everyone from athletes and celebrities to politicians have poured buckets of ice water over his or her head and challenged others do the same or make a donation to fight ALS within twenty-four hours. Just since the end of July, the ALS Association has received more than an astonishing $108 million in donations from the cold heads and warm hearts of these wet benefactors. Contributions further the mission to find a cure for ALS, while funding the highest quality of care for people living with the disease.
“We have never seen anything like this in the history of the disease,” said Barbara Newhouse, president and CEO of The ALS Association. “We couldn’t be more thrilled with the level of compassion, generosity, and sense of humor that people are exhibiting.While the monetary donations are absolutely incredible, the visibility that this disease is getting as a result of the challenge is truly invaluable.”
As one might expect, the loss prevention community has been actively involved in these efforts. LP Magazine’s EyeOnLP has traversed the country looking for loss prevention practitioners and solution providers who are issuing and accepting the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge. EyeOnLP was there to watch Executive Editor Jim Lee, LPC, along with Editor and Publisher Jack Trlica call out their challenges, and many others have followed suit. To watch Jim and Jack take theirs and see some of the others who have accepted the challenge, visit the EyeOnLP page at lpportal.com.
There are many tremendous causes that are deserving of our efforts and attention, and we should never lose sight of the possibilities that we can overcome and the things that we can accomplish when we work together. To learn more about ALS or make a donation, visit alsa.org. We encourage all of our readers to step up and take the challenge. Yes, we’re calling you out. Are you ready to get wet?
Accords Reached in New York
Significant attention has once again focused on separate claims of discriminatory profiling that surfaced late last year. Those incidents have resulted in recent settlements with the New York Attorney General’s Office, to include substantial financial resolutions as well as progressive measures intended to improve training, enhance awareness, and prevent similar issues moving forward.
“Recent allegations of racial profiling at some of New York’s most famous stores stand as a stark reminder that the protections afforded by the Civil Rights Act of 1964 are still needed today,” Attorney General Eric Schneiderman said in a recent press release. “And that equal justice under law remains an American ideal we are striving to attain.”
Barney’s New York agreed to pay $525,000 to settle lawsuits following allegations last fall that two African-American customers were falsely accused of credit card fraud in Manhattan, and that black and Latino customers were the subject of discriminatory profiling in the stores. The incidents sparked a series of protests, national attention from civil rights leaders, and calls to boycott the company. Under the terms of the settlement, Barneys also agreed to make several additional changes, to include retaining an anti-profiling consultant, establishing new record-keeping requirements on investigations conducted by loss prevention employees, and developing anti-profiling training for both loss prevention and sales employees.
“Barneys New York has prided itself on providing an unparalleled customer experience to every person that comes into contact with our brand—open and welcoming to one and all,” Barney’s CEO Mark Lee said in a statement. “We are a truly progressive company that has absolutely no tolerance for discrimination of any kind, and believe this agreement will help build on that commitment and further strengthen our organization in the years and decades to come.”
In related news, Macy’s has also agreed to pay $650,000 to settle allegations of racial profiling at its New York stores. The Attorney General’s Civil Rights Bureau opened an investigation last year after receiving several complaints from nearly two dozen African-American, Latino, and other customers who alleged they had been wrongfully stopped or detained by the retailer’s employees. As part of that agreement, Macy’s will designate an independent expert on anti-discrimination laws and racial-profiling prevention, employ a full-time security monitor who will internally monitor Macy’s loss prevention policies and practices, offer enhanced training and education for employees, and develop additional measures aimed at preventing discrimination against customers.
“To be clear, our company’s policies strictly prohibit any form of discrimination or racial profiling, and any occurrence of such behavior will not be tolerated in our organization,” the company announced in a formal statement. “We at Macy’s are committed to fulfilling the ideals of diversity, inclusion, and respect that our company aspires to achieve—every day, in every store and office, with every customer and associate.”
In addition to the specific measures taken by each retailer as outlined in the settlements, both companies have met independently with civil rights leaders and were active participants in the coalition that resulted in the Customer Bill of Rights. For more on the subject, see the feature article on profiling found on page 39.
Following the huge success of The Lego Movie, it should come as no surprise to anyone that there would be those who would attempt to capitalize on the blockbuster movie. The movie has made more than $258 million since its debut in February according to Box Office Mojo. The toys also generated $1.1 billion in profits in 2013. That success clearly did not go unnoticed in the world of organized retail crime (ORC). The theft and resale of Lego products seems to have emerged as one of the premium crimes of choice for ORC groups across the country.
A pair of back-to-back incidents this summer highlighted the flourishing trend when Phoenix police arrested four people involving $40,000 in Legos stolen from various stores, followed by the recovery of $200,000 in Lego sets from one of the suspect’s homes. The very next week a Long Island woman was arrested with $59,000 worth of the toys and was found trying to sell 800 stolen Lego play sets online.
The Lego sets stolen are typically those designed to build larger Lego projects and are often valued between $99 and $500 in retail stores. What’s more, many of the sets are considered highly collectible and can greatly appreciate in value over time, which only further underscores the potential profits associated with the thefts.
Theft, Drugs, and Rock & Roll
Police arrested a man for shoplifting razor blades at a Beverly Hills pharmacy on July 26, yet somehow it took four weeks and multiple inquiries to confirm that the man they had in custody wasn’t a famous rock musician. The man, who identified himself to police as Scott Weiland, the former frontman and singer for The Stone Temple Pilots, was jailed and charged with burglary and possession of a controlled substance after methamphetamines were also found in his possession.
According to TMZ, they reached out to the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department, who did in fact confirm that Weiland had been arrested. When TMZ released a report nearly a month after the arrest, the actual Scott Weiland posted a video from a recording studio assuring the world that he wasn’t in prison and that someone was obviously impersonating him. After Weiland posted the video, TMZ naturally called police to find out what was going on. However, police once again persisted that they did, in fact, have Weiland in custody. It wasn’t until an FBI fingerprint analysis was later conducted that they admitted the mistake and correctly identified the alleged perpetrator. It’s unclear why it took more than a month for arresting officers or anyone involved with the case to attempt to get proper legal identification or reach out to the real Scott Weiland or his legal representatives.
As a final note, we are seeing some terrific articles being submitted by our readers for publication amongst our various channels. These articles provide great perspectives and tremendous insight into the stories that are of most interest to the LP community, and we very much appreciate your contributions. Do you have an article that you’d like to submit? We’d love to hear from you to discuss the possibilities. Contact us by email.