Fighting Organized Retail Crime Takes Center Stage in Myrtle Beach at CLEAR Conference

The 2018 Coalition of Law Enforcement and Retail (CLEAR) Conference was held October 9-11 in Myrtle Beach, SC, with 180 attendees enjoying the 14 sessions, vendor interactions, and networking opportunities over the three-day span.

Even after dodging Hurricane Florence and Hurricane Michael, the 180 conference attendees received a wide variety of training opportunities, from the impact of opioids on retail crime, federal resources in organized retail crime (ORC) investigations, leadership and case building, advancements in credit card fraud/identity theft, to an eye-opening presentation on the tragic active shooter incident at the Pulse Nightclub in Orlando.

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A highlight of the conference was presenting awards for the law enforcement and loss prevention investigations of the year.

Those awards went to the following recipients:

Loss Prevention ORC Investigation of the Year

Ruben Banuelos, Senior Organized Retail Crime Investigator, The Home Depot
Ben Schwartz, CIT, Senior External Investigator, The Home Depot

This award was presented for diligence and tenacity in identifying, tracking, and partnering with local law enforcement to locate and arrest two suspects in a major nationwide ticket switch/refund fraud case, with a known loss of $300,000. This case exemplifies the value of loss prevention and law enforcement partnerships.

Law Enforcement ORC Investigation of the Year #1

Detective Charlene Tombaugh, Huntersville NC Police

This award was presented for an investigation involving at least 10 different departments over a period of 10 years, investigating larcenies and armed robberies of jewelry stores within a 200-mile radius with a final total loss involving $4,436,794.59.


Law Enforcement ORC Investigation of the Year #2

US Department of Homeland Security, Trade Enforcement Group – Houston, TX
Special Agent Robert Skidmore, Special Agent Eric Lehman and Research Specialist Robert Garcia

For dismantling a major organized retail crime criminal enterprise, which caused over $30 million in losses to retailers in nearly every state. Far beyond the financial losses caused to our businesses, the case expanded into critical areas of public and consumer safety, by identifying suspects involved in counterfeiting prescription drugs, human trafficking and large-scale fraud.

Plans are already underway for the 2019 conference, to be held October 28-31, 2019 in San Diego, CA.


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