In Eastpointe, Mich., 40-year-old Morris Jones was arrested and charged Wednesday with embezzlement and receiving and concealing stolen property, according to local news reports citing police records.
On Oct. 3, officers received information of a reported embezzlement and spoke with a Foot Locker regional loss prevention agent and a FedEx security specialist who discovered that Jones was taking merchandise home with him, instead of delivering it to the store.
Police executing a search warrant at Jones’ home located new merchandise that was earmarked as Foot Locker property. A photo from the Eastpointe Police Department depicts the allegedly stolen products law enforcement found at the suspect’s residence, with Nike shoe boxes accounting for much of the loot.
“The security of our customers’ shipments is a top priority and we are fully cooperating with the authorities as they conduct their investigation,” a FedEx spokesperson told Sourcing Journal.
Foot Locker and The Eastpointe Police Department didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment.
Reports indicate police are also looking for a female suspect who they believe acted as an accomplice.
Jones is scheduled for a probable cause conference on Oct. 19, followed by a preliminary examination a week later. Court officials set Morris’ bond at $25,000.
The arrest comes amid an ongoing retail crime wave across the U.S., which includes both the “smash-and-grab” robberies that have caught the attention of federal and state lawmakers, and inside jobs masterminded by retail and supply chain employees, as in the case of Jones.
Last December, a DHL warehouse employee was arrested for stealing $60,000 of Nike products from the Memphis, Tenn. facility where she worked. In May, two Nordstrom employees were arrested after Minnetonka, Minn. police recovered $400,000 in stolen goods from the Nordstrom store that employed them.
And last month, one Walmart store in Evansville, Ind. discovered that an employee had allegedly stolen as much as $225,000 in cash over a several-month span. A similar incident occurred in Mansfield, N.J., in which a former Walmart store employee allegedly stole as much as $199,999 in cash.
According to a 2022 survey from the National Retail Federation (NRF), 56.9 percent of retailers say they have seen increased risk of internal theft over the past five years. And when it comes to shrink as a whole, internal theft risks remain high. Retailers say that 28.5 percent of inventory shrink comes from employee/internal theft, while 37 percent comes from external incidents, including organized retail crime (ORC). Shrink across retail totaled approximately $94.5 billion in losses in 2021, the association estimates.
Some have tied the rising cases of retail theft, particularly in large quantities, to the proliferation of more online marketplaces—some of which have been criticized for not doing enough to clamp down on potential criminals that attempt to sell stolen goods via their platform.
After thieves stole more than $800,000 in merchandise from trailers outside a Nike distribution center in Memphis, StockX temporarily paused sales of unreleased Air Jordan sneakers that may have been taken in the heist.
Several bills have been introduced through Congress in an effort to crack down on the related retail theft schemes. Sens. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) and Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.) recently introduced the bipartisan Combatting Organized Retail Crime Act, which would establish a central center to combat ORC to facilitate information sharing between agencies, and allow federal judges to order criminal forfeiture after convictions of organized retail theft-related crimes.
Another bill, the INFORM Consumers Act, directly goes after holes in the online marketplace, effectively requiring them to collect and verify basic business information from sellers before they are permitted to sell online. In addition, the legislation would require high-volume sellers to provide contact information to consumers. Sens. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) and Bill Cassidy (R-La.) introduced the bill in the Senate in March 2021.
Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) launched a guide to combat organized retail crime across the U.S. in June. ICE’s Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) and the Association of Certified Anti-Money Laundering Specialists (ACAMS) published a report highlighting common red flags among organized theft groups in order to fight the increase in violent “smash-and-grab” attacks in U.S. stores.
According to the NRF survey, retailers reported a 26.5 percent increase in ORC on average in 2021. Perhaps more concerning, 81.2 percent of retailers noted a wider increase in violence and aggression associated with ORC over the past year.