You Can’t Make This Stuff Up – March 2019

A collection of odd and whacky news stories that caught the Loss Prevention Media staff's attention

iPhone accessories coming from El Chapo’s daughter

The notorious Mexican drug kingpin Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman was convicted on ten separate federal counts, including narcotics trafficking, using a firearm in furtherance of his drug crimes and participating in a money laundering conspiracy. But the convictions won’t stop Guzman’s daughter from selling El Chapo 701-branded products, including iPhone accessories, Complex reported. The line also includes shirts, hats, and cigar accessories.

Guzman, while on the run in 2015, texted with an associate over whether to buy an iPhone 6, Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge, or the BlackBerry Leap. The drug lord’s wife was caught sneaking an unauthorized cell phone into court during the trial in November, although it was never reported what model the phone was.   [Source: AppleInsider]

Alleged drug dealer who bought $540 of Girl Scouts cookies is arrested

A South Carolina man who bought more than 120 boxes of Girl Scouts cookies to help the scouts escape the cold has been arrested on drug charges. News outlets report the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency says 46-year-old Detric Lee McGowan was arrested Tuesday on charges including conspiracy to distribute fentanyl and cocaine. The agency says McGowan is the same man who appeared in a photo that garnered thousands of views and shares online. Mother Kayla Dillard had shared the photo on Facebook, saying the man paid $540 in cash for all the girls’ cookies so they could escape the cold outside a store near Greenville, South Carolina. She said she didn’t get the man’s name.

An indictment issued last week says McGowan, also known as “Fat,” is one of several suspects in an ongoing drug investigation. It says he and 10 other people conspired to import drugs from Mexico in late 2018. The U.S. Attorney’s Office says authorities are still searching for one of the suspects.

The vice president of recruitment and marketing for Girl Scouts of South Carolina-Mountains to Midlands, Karen Kelly, says the organization will cooperate with authorities. She says in a Tuesday statement that the organization had no reason to believe McGowan was “anything other than one of our valuable customers.” McGowan was being held at a Spartanburg County detention center.  [Source: Dunyanews]

Police find a clue to burglar’s identity… his wallet

A Montana man is accused of breaking into a bicycle shop, stealing a pair of sunglasses, then dropping his wallet on the floor of the shop early Saturday morning. Jackson Fraser Herring, 26, was already in police custody for an alleged theft from CVS, also on Saturday morning, when employees at the downtown Bozeman bike shop discovered the break-in.

According to court documents, around 8:30 a.m. on Saturday, bike shop employees discovered a side door had been broken into. The employees said items were moved around and a wallet was on the floor. Police responded to the scene and a review of security video reportedly showed Herring enter the store and rummage around inside, eventually putting a pair of sunglasses on his head and leaving the store around 3:20 a.m.

The reporting officer said he immediately recognized Herring from an earlier incident, around 7 a.m., in which Herring allegedly attempted to steal beer from a Safeway grocery store. The officer said Safeway declined to press charges and Herring was released with a trespass warning. During the incident, the officer said, Herring was wearing the sunglasses he was seen taking from the bike shop.   According to the officer, the wallet that was found in the bike shop also contained Herring’s Montana ID card   [Source: KBZK7 News]

Retail employees reveal their returned product horror stories

Costco has a particularly generous return policy, and there’s a reason for that. One former Costco manager explained the reasoning behind the policy, telling Business Insider the “liberal return policy” created a sense of confidence in members. “They know that if it does not meet expectations, they can return it,” the person said. The chain hopes that confidence will prompt customers to shop and spend more.

What’s more, the former manager said that despite the horror stories, the policy “is not taken advantage of as much as you might think.”
“Being a membership club, the members have a vested interest through their membership fees to follow the rules,” the person said. “Sales and returns are tracked and fraud is easy to spot. In these cases, memberships are canceled. Many times members would have rather me call the police than cancel their membership when caught shoplifting or committing return fraud.” That being said, most Costco employees have at least one or two stories about particularly bizarre returns.

“We’ve seen it all,” one employee told Business Insider. Here are a few of the wilder things that Costco employees say members have tried to exchange at the returns desk:
A Costco employee of 12 years told Business Insider the person wanted customers to “stop bringing half-eaten food and saying it was bad.” The person described seeing shoppers return bones that had been picked clean, offering the explanation that the “meat was no good” but that “they had to feed their family something.”

And a different employee of the warehouse chain described seeing members bring back “all-eaten pies or baked goods” they said they didn’t like. So what happens to the food that Costco members return? In most cases, it must be discarded. “We end up having to throw the food away because it can’t be resold if it left the building,” a Kentucky-based employee said. Among reasons for returning food, the employee cited members claiming to have “bought the wrong thing,” “overbought” for their party, or even purchased a product “on impulse.” One employee said that members had gotten refunds on “smelly socks.”

Costco doesn’t have a time-sensitive return policy, and some members certainly take advantage of that. A California-based Costco employee said that people had returned products “that are 10 years old and ‘just stopped working.'” Another Costco employee told Business Insider about customers who returned “10-year-old mattresses.” Another employee from California said members frequently abused the warehouse chain’s return system by hauling in old items including “stained mattresses.”

One Costco employee described how a woman returned two dirty, 5-year-old toilets to the warehouse. “She said she didn’t need them anymore,” the employee said. “She didn’t even clean them. I’m embarrassed that we ended up taking them back, but we did make her take them outside and clean them before we did.”

Costco employees from Ohio and California also described seeing customers return “a 10-year-old vacuum” and a “20-year-old refrigerator.” A Costco employee from Illinois reported witnessing members successfully return dead trees and plants to the store. A different Costco employee reported seeing customers handing back “dead roses” at the returns desk. [Source: Business Insider]

Suspect helps customers, makes himself a sandwich before taking money

Grand Traverse County sheriff’s deputies in Michigan are investigating after a man went behind a Subway counter, made himself a sandwich and stole $20. It happened at the Subway restaurant in the Traverse City Walmart. According to Lieutenant Chris Barsheff with the sheriff’s department, the suspect approached an employee saying he worked at another Subway in Traverse City.

The man asked if he could make himself a sandwich but after being told no by the employee, he did so anyway, said Barsheff. Investigators said the suspect showed some familiarity with Subway procedures as he performed tasked on their register and rang up several purchases for customers who were waiting in line. During this time, the suspect stole $20 from the register. Barsheff said investigators are working with Walmart Loss Prevention and Subway management to identify and locate the suspect.   [Source: NBC2 News]

Shoplifting on wheels

A Mississippi man faces shoplifting charges after police say he rode a stolen bicycle out an emergency exit at Walmart while hauling other goods he stole. Picayune police say Logan R. Stockstill, was arrested after police received a call at 5:14 a.m. on March 7, from Walmart officials who reported the incident. Stockstill allegedly also took other merchandise with a total value of $465. The other items allegedly taken included socks, AAA batteries and a pen light, police reported.

Assistant Police Chief Dustin Moeller said officers arrived and spoke with loss prevention staff at the retailer and got the last known direction Stockstill was seen heading. Another officer headed in the opposite direction down Stafford Road and found Stockstill still riding the bike along Robert Road. When the officer attempted to stop Stockstill, he ditched the bike and fled on foot, Moeller said.

The officer gave chase on foot, jumping a barbed wire fence and entering the property of the Mississippi Welcome Center, where the foot chase continued until Stockstill was taken into custody for shoplifting. All of the stolen items were recovered and returned to the retailer, Moeller said.  [Source: Magnolia State Live]

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