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Sneaker-Store Owner Foils Footwear Theft

A Fort Worth, Texas footwear store owner released surveillance video of three suspects stealing sneakers including Yeezys and Jordans—but the perpetrators were in for a surprise when they discovered that each box contained just a single sneaker.

With the rise in “smash-and-grab” robberies across the U.S., Laced Connection owner Chad Steward tried to minimize any potential damages to his business by splitting his pairs of sneakers—keeping one shoe in the box on display in front and one in the back.

The thieves who broke into the back storage room and couldn’t access the front of the shop were left without complete pairs to steal. A steel gate separated the storage room from the sales floor.

Steward told local Fox affiliate KDFW that security was a top priority when he opened the store last year.

“It would have taken them a good while to get into this part of the store. I’m thankful I had the preventatives I did,” he said.

The suspects still managed to steal “thousands of dollars of merchandise,” and also damaged the store, KDFW reported.

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“It’s sad. You can tell in the video these kids are young,” Steward said. “There will be more gates and more bars put in place. We’ll put in alarms.”

In social media posts after the robbery, Steward offered a $1,000 reward for anyone who can help identify the perpetrators and get the sneakers back.

The Fort Worth Police Department did not immediately respond to Sourcing Journal’s request for comment.

Louis Vuitton robbery attempt goes awry

A 17-year-old suspect attempting to steal $18,000 in luxury handbags ran into a plate glass window and knocked himself unconscious before he could leave the Louis Vuitton store in Bellevue, Wash.

The store and surrounding area have been a repeated target for thieves, with investigators making arrests related to three separate retail crime cases in the area in August. After the Louis Vuitton store was robbed in June, law enforcement charged four suspects—three with working together to steal more than $93,000 in handbags from the luxury store. The fourth was charged with selling the stolen merchandise.

According to prosecutors, the 17-year-old juvenile was part of the same retail crime theft ring as two other suspects in custody for the June incident.

Officers called medics and accompanied the suspect to the hospital where he was arrested on theft charges, the Bellevue Police Department told Sourcing Journal. The suspect was later released to a family member and the case was referred to the King County Prosecutor’s Office.

Surveillance footage shows the suspect (right) crashing into the glass window before being apprehended.

More than 50 repeat offenders have been arrested in Bellevue alone for retail robbery and shoplifting, police said. The county has charged 59 organized retail theft cases so far this year—14 in Bellevue and 25 in nearby Seattle.

“The message is, if you come to the City of Bellevue, you commit these crimes, we’re going to put together solid cases,” Bellevue police captain Rob Spingler told KOMO News.

$7.5 million Chicago-area crime ring gets busted

Efforts to stop organized retail crime continue to ramp up. In Illinois, 10 people face charges for a multi-state, organized criminal retail theft fencing operation involving an estimated $7.5 million in products, according to Will County state’s attorney James Glasgow.

The yearlong undercover investigation involved at least nine agencies, including the Wilmette, Ill. Police Department, the Chicago Police Department, Homeland Security, Illinois State Police and California Highway Patrol. Private sector retail crime units from Kroger, CVS, Target and Walgreens also assisted in the criminal investigation.

Iaad Hamad, Hani Hamad, Markell Spencer, Michael Beals, Fekeisha Hamlin, Dylan Bryant, Brett Pendleton, Ahmed Salem, Donald Kimball and Arthur Blair all face a range of charges including theft, money laundering and fraud.

Wilmette police said they have more than 270,000 stolen good items including over the counter medication, beauty products and more from the cross-country ring.

In a media release, the Wilmette Police Department said the suspects would steal the merchandise from Chicagoland-area retail businesses before bringing them to the defendants, who knowingly purchased the stolen property at their storefront locations in Chicago.

“The defendants brought the stolen merchandise to various locations throughout Chicago where they removed identifying retailer information from the items,” the release said. “The defendants then would ship the items in pallet form to the East and West coast. This investigation identified the suspects taking in stolen retail products including over the counter medications which they would then ship to online co-defendant e-commerce merchants in California and third-party distributors in New York who introduced these products back into the supply chain.”

The charged parties established numerous accounts with multiple banks and financial institutions in attempts to conceal the origin of the funds, and utilized the illegal proceeds to make purchases including multiple residential properties and fund the continued operation of their criminal enterprise, according to the Wilmette Police Department.

Utah AG meets with retailers, loss prevention orgs

High-profile officials are taking notice of the recurring retail crime problem in the U.S., with Utah attorney general Sean D. Reyes discussing the issue of ORC and the state’s work to address it at an event hosted by the Retail Industry Leaders Association (RILA), LP Magazine and the Loss Prevention Foundation on Wednesday.

A.G. Reyes discussed the issue with execs at top retailers including Dick’s Sporting Goods, Home Depot, Lowes, Kroger and more.

ORC generally refers to groups and individuals who steal a significant number of products with the intent to sell the items for gain.

A.G. Reyes spoke about Utah’s work to fight these crimes, with his office dedicating resources to support the full-time CASE (Crimes Against Statewide Economy) unit, which includes a public/private partnership to arrest and prosecute the thieves and the people who organize the crimes.

In a press release, the office cited data from The Coalition of Law Enforcement and Retail, indicating that almost 70 percent of storefronts have reported an increase in theft over the past year, for losses of at least $45 billion. Another survey from the National Retail Federation (NRF) indicated that 81.2 percent of retailers noted a wider increase in violence and aggression associated with ORC in a similar timeframe.

Utah’s CASE task force first began as a private/public partnership funded by retailers, but two years ago the legislature dedicated $500,000 to the attorney general’s office to fund CASE full time. The task force said thieves commonly target clothes, jewelry, electronics, tools, and grocery store products such as meat, baby formula and honey.