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Jury denies claims by woman who sued Walmart for profiling

A Spokane jury found a Walmart employee did not assault a customer he believed was shoplifting in an altercation outside the Shadle Park location in December 2012.

Beyonce Nieves brought suit against the Arkansas-based retailer claiming a store loss prevention employee accosted her outside the store on suspicions she stole stockings from the Ladies Wear Department. Troy Nelson, an attorney for Walmart in the case, said the jury threw out the assault, outrage and unlawful detention claims in its verdict delivered earlier this week, ruling the employee's acts were reasonable.

Via email, Nelson said Walmart would be filing a proposed judgment in their favor in the coming days. Nelson thanked the jury and said he was pleased with the verdict.

Nieves claimed she had been profiled by the employee, saying she was approached for her physical appearance. Theft charges against her were later dropped for lack of evidence, according to court documents.

Spokane woman sues Walmart, claiming she was profiled

A Spokane jury will hear the civil case filed against Walmart by a woman who claims she was profiled as a shoplifter and humiliated by a store employee in December 2011.

 

Beyonce Nieves sued the Arkansas-based retailer in Spokane County Superior Court, asking for damages resulting from assault, unlawful imprisonment and outrage for an incident that took place at the Shadle Park location on Dec. 9, 2011. Attorneys for Walmart claim their employee, a store loss prevention officer, acted reasonably when he confronted Nieves outside the store, alleging she’d secreted some stockings in a backpack and walked out without paying.

 

The confrontation led to Nieves allegedly disrobing in the parking lot in an attempt to prove her innocence, pulling up her shirt and pulling down her pants, according to court documents. The police were called and charges against her were later dropped when investigators could not prove she’d stolen anything.

 

The employee said in court filings he witnessed Nieves place the stockings in the pocket of her hooded sweatshirt. Attorneys for Walmart also want jurors to hear about a previous incident at a Fred Meyer store in which Nieves was captured on video “engaging in a crime of dishonesty” similar to the alleged Walmart shoplifting, according to court documents.

 

Nieves claims that she was singled out for surveillance because of her physical appearance. Security video will be played at trial, in which Nieves claims there is no evidence she took any items without paying.

 

Walmart has denied the allegations against itself and its employee through an attorney. The company claims Nieves was responsible for whatever consequences, physical or otherwise, resulted from the incident.

WalMart shoplifter headbutts cashier

Police are trying to identify a man who headbutted a WalMart cashier while shoplifting last week.

An image from a surveillance video shows the man at the store on East Broadway Avenue in Spokane Valley.

A cashier told police he approached the man when he saw him walking toward the west exit with a large bulge in his sweatshirt about 12:45 a.m. July 24.

The man tried to exit, but the doors were locked, so he headbutted the cashier and escaped through a fire exit, according to the Spokane County Sheriff's Office. The thief dropped stolen items in the process.

The Sheriff''s Office released the surveillance photo today in hopes someone will recognize the man.

Anyone with information is asked to contact Detective Jack Rosenthal at (509) 220-6424 or at (509) 477-3186.
  

Idaho burglary suspect arrested in Valley

A suspect in a string of burglaries in North Idaho was arrested Friday after a shoplifting incident turned violent at the Spokane Valley Wal-Mart.

 Susan Burke, 50, was out of custody on $5,000 bond awaiting trial in Kootenai County when a store security officer spotted her leaving the store with concealed merchandise Friday about 1:40 p.m.

Employees tried to stop Burke, but she struggled with them and threw her purse toward the door. Employees grabbed it e and found Burke's driver's license inside. They checked Burke's name in store records and discovered she'd been banned in 2010 from all stores for life after getting caught shoplifting twice.

Burke, who is scheduled for trial in Kootenai County in May for property crimes, was booked into jail on theft, burglary and robbery charges after police contacted her at her home at 303 E. Indiana Ave.

Police also contacted a 17-year-old boy who lives with Burke at the home and is identified as her boyfriend.

The boy is charged in juvenile court for an incident last July in which he allegedly failed to call for help after his friend fell in the Spokane River and drowned.

Spokane tinfoil robber jailed for theft

A man allowed to remain free pending the appeal of his sentence for robbing a store of a piece of tin foil is back in jail.

David Lee Hickam, 26, was found to have violated the terms of his release when he was identified recently as a suspect in a Dec. 26 theft.

Hickam also was cited or diving with a suspended license Feb. 17. Prosecutors cited that incident as well as the alleged theft of a laptop computer from Huppins, 419 W. Main Ave., as a reason to jail him on $150,000 bond.

Judge Annette Plese agreed, and police arrested Hickam Tuesday. He appeared in Spokane County Superior Court Wednesday.

Hickam is appealing a 47-month prison sentence for robbery that began when he stole a piece of tinfoil from Rite Aid, 5520 N. Division St., then pepper sprayed an employee.

 A jury convicted him last July, but he was allowed to stay out of prison after he posted a $35,000 appeal bond.
  

Kohl’s theft report leads to meth arrest

A report of attempted shoplifting at a Spokane Valley department store led to a felony drug arrest after police searched the suspect's car.

Employees at Kohl's, 16301 East Broadway Ave., called 911 Monday and said a woman was inside placing items by the door as a red Nissan Alitmia circled the parking lot. The woman went outside to talk to the female driver, and employees provided the Altima's license plate number to dispatchers, police said today.

Spokane Valley police Officer Jerad Kiehn passed the Niissan while responding to the store. He stopped the vehicle, and the driver, Whitney J. Longmeier, 26, denied being at Kohl's and allowed Kiehn to search her car, police say.

Kiehn found  a small metal container in Longmeier's purse that contained a plastic baggie with methamphetamine inside, according to police.

Longmeier was arrested on a felony drug charge as well as a charge of third-degree driving while license suspended.

Her passenger, 22-year-old Laurel E. Broxton, 22, was booked into jail on a warrant for a felony drug charge from last year.

Repeat Best Buy pest charged w/ felony

A 19-time felon banned from Best Buy allegedly returned to the store 13 times in seven months, leading to a slew of felony burglary charges.

Police arrested William Steven Neis, 49, at his apartment at 1119 W. 11th Street on Jan. 25.

Officers had responded to north Spokane Best Buy Jan. 13 after employees said a shoplifter “has been harassing them and blatantly stealing things from them in full view for months,” according to the Spokane Police Department.

Best Buy policy prohibits employees from physically contacting theft suspects. Police believe Neis knew of this policy and continued to shoplift because of it.

Neis is believed to have stolen more than $5,000 in items from the store on 13 occasions between May and December last year., police say.

Neis was permanently banned from he store in July 2010. Spokane County prosecutors charged him with 13 counts second-degree burglary last week unlawfully entering the store.

Officers Dusty Howe and Stephanie Kennedy “spent a full week locating Neis” and went to Best Buy on their day off to continue the investigation, police say.

Neis remains in jail on $19,500, as well as $3,500 bond for misdemeanor assault and theft charges.

Hastings Reports Stolen DVDs

The complete fifth series of “Doctor Who” went where? With whom? The police want to know. More than 200 DVDs - including the British science fiction program and many other movies and series - valued at a total of more than $4,600 were stolen from the Hastings entertainment store in Coeur d'Alene, according to a police report. The store, located at 101 E. Appleway Ave., noticed the discs were missing following an inventory check at the end of last month. Managers at the store told police they believe the thefts occurred some time in December. “That's a highly unusual number of DVDs to walk out the door” as shoplifted items, said Coeur d'Alene Police spokeswoman Sgt. Christie Wood/David Cole, Coeur d'Alene Press. More here. (Wikipedia photo)

Question: Do you own DVDs to a TV series? Which series?

Tips sought on Safeway robber’s ID

Spokane police are asking for help identifying a man accused of holding a knife to a Safeway employee's throat.

The employee approached the man about stealing items from the store at 2507 W. Wellesley Ave. when he was attacked Jan. 4 about 4:30 p.m., police said today.

The thief threatened to slit the employee's throat and fled on a bicycle with a pocket knife in his hand, police say

The victim described the man as in his late 30s and wearing a dark beanie, button-up flannel shirt and grayish tan Carhartt jacket.

Police released a surveillance photo of the man today.

Anyone with information on his identity is asked to call Crime Check at (509) 456-2233.

Police: Thief points gun at Costco worker

A Spokane man caught shoplifting from Costco on New Year's Eve upped the judicial ante by pointing a gun at a store employee, according to police.

Todd E. Miller, 39, is jailed on $30,000 bond after he was arrested Saturday at the store at 7619 N. Division St. Store employee Troy Humphrey said he contacted Miller about 6 p.m. after he spotted him stealing merchandise, according to court documents.

Humphrey tried to escort Miller to the back of the store, but Miller pointed a gun at him and fled, police say.

Police contacted Miller in a parking lot near the store. Officer Shawn Pegram says Miller showed him where he'd discarded the stolen merchandise. Pegram found a gun on the front passenger seat of the car in which he was sitting, according to court documents.

Miller appeared before Superior Court Judge Annette Plese Tuesday on a first-degree robbery charge.

Suspects arrested after pocket dialing 911

MADISON, Wis. (AP) — Police in Wisconsin's capital city barely had to try to catch a pair of unlucky suspected thieves.

Madison police say two men in their late 20s stole DVDs and computer games from a Target store Tuesday and discussed their plans to fence the goods while driving away.

Investigators say the duo didn't realize one of them had accidentally pocket-dialed 911. A dispatcher listened in for nearly an hour as they discussed what they had stolen and where they might sell it. Police say they even described their vehicle.

Madison police spokesman Joel DeSpain says the pair decided to sell their goods at a video store. When they pulled into the store's parking lot, officers surrounded their vehicle with guns drawn.

Docs can’t reattach ear in hatchet attack

SEATTLE (AP) — The brother of a Longview, Wash., security guard who was attacked by a shoplifter with a hatchet says doctors weren't able to reattach his ear.

Police arrested Adrian Kramer (pictured) on Wednesday for investigation of assault, robbery, burglary and theft.

Authorities say that when 33-year-old David Morrison, the head of security at the Fred Meyer retail store, tried to stop Kramer on Monday, Kramer swung a small hatchet at Morrison and sliced off his left ear.

Police say Kramer shoplifted a cart full of CDs, a bike chain and other items.

David Morrison's brother, Steven, says doctors in a Portland, Ore., hospital weren't able to reattach the ear after four hours of surgery. He says his brother is weighing his medical options now, including a prosthetic ear.

Mall robbery suspect arrested at Costco

Police say a man who stole a pair of shoes at knifepoint from the Northtown Mall on Wednesday had asked the store employee for help with his out-of-gas car just before the robbery.

 The employee helped the man pushed his Red Dodge Ram pickup into a parking spot, only to be threatened 30 minutes later after confronting him for stealing a pair of shoes from Champs Sports, police say.

Police identified Jason M. Giles, 33, (pictured) as a suspect on Thursday after he was arrested in a similar robbery at Costco, 7619 N. Division St.

A Costco employee confronted Giles about 4:45 p.m. after observing him hide merchandise in his coat and try to leave the store. Giles punched the employee and bit another employee before pulling a knife and trying to stab another, according to court documents prepared by police.

Giles was arrested on charges of first-degree robbery, first-degree assault and possession of methamphetamine. Detectives met with him at the jail and booked him on an additional robbery charge for the Champs Sports incident.

Giles appeared in Spokane County Superior Court via video from the jail, where he remains on $50,000 bond and a probation hold. He has a previous conviction for second-degree assault for a shooting in 2009.

Theft turns to robbery at Northtown Mall

Police are looking for a man who pulled a knife on a shoe store employee Tuesday night at the Northtown Mall.

The manager at Champs Sports told officers the man tried on a pair of shoes, then left without paying and threatened the manager with a knife when confronted, according to the Spokane Police Department. No one was injured.

The man ran through the mall and exited on the east side, then continued running east.

A K-9 track was unsuccessful. The robber is described as a white man, 20 to 30 years old, 6-feet tall and 180 pounds. He wore a blue coat over a dark hoodie and a stocking cap.

Anyone with information is asked to call Crime Check at (509) 456-2233.
  

Safeway beer theft leads to robbery arrest

A beer theft at a north Spokane grocery store led to a felony robbery arrest for a 19-year-old man accused of fighting with a store clerk.

Cole Matthew Kendall and a friend were trying to steal beer from Safeway at 902 W. Francis Ave. when Kendall pushed a clerk as they fled, Spokane police say.

A police dog helped track the thieves, and witnesses identified Kendall as the man who stole beer and pushed the clerk.

He was released from jail on his own recognizance after appearing in Superior Court Wednesday on a first-degree robbery charge. The name of the second suspect was not included in documents details the case against Kendall.

Theft-turned-robbery cases have become a hot topic in Spokane County. A judge gave an exceptionally light sentence to a college student arrested on robbery charges after bumping into a clerk while shoplifting.

A jury also recently convicted a drug addict of robbery for using force while stealing a single sheet of tinfoil.

Man Faces Court Over Aluminum Foil

A Spokane man is standing trial this week for allegedly stealing a single piece of aluminum foil from a north side pharmacy.The aluminum foil is worth about a nickel, which would have made David Hickam's charge a simple shoplifting charge, but when he fought with a loss prevention officer, it upped the ante on his arrest.Police say Hickam, 26, went into a Rite-Aid pharmacy, picked up a box of aluminum foil, tore out a sheet, stuffed it in his pocket and walked out of the store. A security guard who had watched the alleged theft on a video camera confronted Hickam outside the store/Jeff Humphrey, KXLY. More here.' (KXLY photo)

Question: Who's more ridiculous here — the pharmacy who is pushing the shoplifting case or Hickam who fought a security guard over a sheet of aluminum foil?

Police: Thief busted with ‘smart food’

Here's a news release from Spokane Valley police spokesman Sgt. Dave Reagan titled, “Stolen “Smart Food” No Help to Thief.”

A 24-year-old Spokane man was arrested Tuesday evening after he attempted to steal $329 worth of Blu Ray DVD’s and an egg roll, a burrito and an item labeled “smart food.”

Officer Lamont Peterson was called to the East Sprague Avenue and North Sullivan Road Fred Meyer store about 7 p.m. after a security officer stopped Mordekye A. Layman as he attempted to leave the store with the items hidden in a canvas bag.

Peterson arrested Layman for third-degree theft and returned the property to the store.

Charges: Thefts cost Seattle stores $6M

SEATTLE (AP) — The crime appeared petty on the surveillance video: a mother-daughter team of heroin-addict shoplifters nonchalantly wheeling a cart of boosted items through the open sliding doors of a grocery store.

But their arrest early last year led investigators to the organizers of a major, international theft operation, prosecutors say — one of two unrelated rings that cost Seattle-area stores an estimated $6.1 million in lost merchandise, money the chains try to recoup by raising prices for everyone else. The busted rings represent just a tiny fraction of what is an enormous regional and national problem, King County Prosecutor Dan Satterberg told a news conference Thursday.

“What we are talking about today are people who direct armies of shoplifters,” Satterberg said.

Jason Moulton, a former FBI agent who heads local loss-prevention efforts at the Safeway grocery chain, has spent years lobbying law enforcement on the problem, and it was a workshop he conducted that prompted local police departments, including Normandy Park south of Seattle, to start paying closer attention. When a QFC grocery store reported thefts by the mother-daughter team, investigators from Normandy Park arrested them and joined police from neighboring Burien in launching an investigation.

Read the rest of the story by Associated Press writer Gene Johnson by clicking the link below.

Vestal: ‘Stolen’ Hotdog Baffles Jurors

Call it the great hot dog caper. Or maybe the greatly overblown hot dog caper would be more accurate. One day last December, Eastern Washington University student John Richardson got himself a German sausage at the self-serve counter at Mitchell’s IGA in Cheney. He ate it as he shopped for peanut butter (crunchy), jelly, bread and other items. When he left, he forgot to pay for the 99-cent dog – though he did pay for more than $28 in groceries. Store managers approached him once he left the store, refused his efforts to pay for it, and held him for the police to arrive when things got heated. Thirteen weeks later, Richardson was found not guilty by a baffled jury with a minimum of deliberation/Shawn Vestal, SR. More here. (SR photo: Chris Anderson/John Richardson stands across the street from Mitchell’s IGA in Cheney.)

Question: Have you ever walked out of a store after forgetting to pay for an item that you've eaten or that is in your possession?

86’d from Walmart, return leads to arrest

A Spokane woman banned from all Walmarts was arrested for felony burglary Sunday after returning to the Spokane Valley store.

Billee Jo Koller, 36, tried to steal more than $80 in men's clothing from the store at 15727 E. Broadway Ave., according to the Spokane Valley Police Department.
 
Koller was prohibited from going to the Walmart after she was caught shoplifting last October, police said.
 
That condition upgraded her shoplifting allegation to a second-degree burglary charge. She also was booked for third-degree theft and warrants for theft and drug possession.

Police chase rekindles robbery charge

A man arrested in a police pursuit that damaged two patrol cars late Monday has been charged with robbery for an alleged incident at the Northtown Mall in November.

Kenneth S. Crowston, 47, (pictured in 2003) is charged with second-degree robbery after a Sears security guard said Crowston hit him when confronted about shoplifting a pair of boots on Nov. 24.

Crowston was arrested the day of the incident but was not charged and was out of jail late Monday when police spotted him in his car dressed in black in a neighborhood plagued by burglaries.

Crowston sped away from Officer Jay Kernkamp after Kernkamp approached him about 11 p.m. in the area of West Central Avenue and North Belt Street, then sideswiped Kernkamp's patrol car and rammed Officer Paul Bode's patrol car head on during a pursuit.

Crowston was pulled from his vehicle and arrested after a struggle.

Neither officer was injured in the incident.

Crowston, who has a lengthy criminal record, was booked into jail on two counts of second-degree assault, attempting to elude a police officer, driving with a suspended license and resisting arrest, where he remains on $100,000 bond.
  

Woman can’t shake felony’s impact

Kristin Bell had what she calls a moment of weakness that has turned into a 2  1/2-year legal nightmare and forced her to give up a dream of ever working as a grade-school teacher.

Bell, 24, admits that she foolishly stole $163 worth of items in 2008 from a craft store in Cheney. But it’s what happened on her way to her car that forever changed her life and sparked a legal debate that continues today.

“It’s just been such an ordeal,” said Bell, who is about three classes short of her degree, unemployed and recently had a son. “I obviously admitted I shoplifted and paid the fines for it. I don’t believe being charged with robbery was right at all. It’s been ridiculous.”

The case, and others like it, has raised questions within Spokane’s legal community as to whether justice is being served when prosecutors turn what appears to be a shoplifting case into a felony at the same time they complain to county commissioners and taxpayers that they are understaffed and overworked.

Read the rest of Thomas Clouse's story here.

Spokane theft suspect aids in own arrest

Police say a Spokane Valley man suspected of robbery made it easy for them on Sunday: He let employees copy his driver’s license number before leaving the store.

But Delano Edward Jennings, 47, was ordered released from jail Monday because prosecutors didn’t have the necessary documents from police.

Jennings was arrested after he left Home Depot, 5617 E. Sprague Ave., with a stolen electric fan and carpet shampoo, then punched a security guard in the face when confronted in the parking lot, according to police.

The guard had watched Jennings hand his driver’s license to another employee while exchanging items prior to the theft, police said.

Jennings fled eastbound with the stolen items, but the store still had a copy of his driver’s license number.

Spokane Valley police Officer Mike McNees remembered a domestic violence incident that was investigated at Jennings’ apartment a day earlier and alerted other officers, who located him at the home about 9 p.m.

Jennings was arrested on the robbery charge but left jail because prosecutors didn’t have a probable cause affidavit from police. Superior Court Judge Michael Price warned him that charges likely will eventually be filed.

Jennings is a felon with previous convictions for bail jumping, theft and delivery of cocaine.

25k bond for suspect stopped by cop car

A theft suspect accidentally caught by police after fleeing a downtown Spokane clothing store remains in jail on $25,000 bond and a probation hold.

Gavin D. Wolf, 24, (pictured in 2008) appeared in Superior Court Tuesday on a second-degree robbery charge.

A passing patrol car struck Wolf Monday as he darted across Main Avenue shortly before 5 p.m. while being chased by a Nordstrom security officer, said Major Crimes Sgt. Mark Griffiths.

The suspect suffered a leg injury and was taken to a local hospital. “It was completely coincidental. (Nordstrom) hadn't called us yet,” Griffiths said.

Although the robber never displayed a weapon, he used force when confronted by a security guard, police said, fleeing with a bag of clothing and other items found near Wolf at the accident scene. The police car was driven by Officer Joe Denton.

Griffiths said Denton and the Nordstrom security officer reported that Wolf was outside the crosswalk.

Wolf already was wanted on a Department of Corrections warrant for escape from community custody.

He was sentenced in April to five days in jail for misdemeanor theft and was sentenced in September 2009 to nine days in jail after pleading guilty to felony third-degree retail theft with extenuating circumstances. He also has previous convictions for drugs and drunken driving.

Giuliani’s daughter nabbed

Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani is seen Dec. 22 in New York.

NEW YORK – Rudy Giuliani’s daughter was arrested Wednesday on a misdemeanor shoplifting charge at a beauty supplies store after she was seen on security video pocketing makeup, police said.

Caroline Giuliani, a 20-year-old Harvard University student, was seen taking five items worth more than $100 at a Sephora store in Manhattan, New York Police Department spokesman Paul Browne said.

Store managers, after calling police, said they didn’t want to press charges against her, Browne said. But police arrested her on a petty larceny charge, he said. Colleen Long, AP Full Story.

Why do people who have money, shoplift?

Police: Would-be shoplifter turns robber

A would-be shoplifting suspect faces a second-degree robbery charge after store employees said he assaulted them. 

Daniel F. Barcellos, Jr., 40, ran from the Big R store, 8307 East Trent Ave., on Saturday with a $200 leather jacket before trying to punch and shove three employees who chased him, according to the Spokane Valley Police Department.

Barcellos, who employees says is suspected of previous thefts, had been spotted trying to stuff a leather boot inside the jacket. He assaulted employees who tried blocking his path before he was finally tackled near Trent and Vista, police said.

Police found wire cutters on Barcellos, and the leather jacket he was wearing had Big R tags, but the security device had been removed.

Barcellos’s criminal history includes convictions for reckless and negligent driving, driving on a suspended license, theft, malicious mischief, domestic violence assault, violation of court orders and probation violations, according to Crime Stoppers.

He appeared today in Superior Court, where his bond was set at $25,000.

Most Shoplifted Book

A centuries-old Matthew-Tyndale Bible.

One nice thing about having my eldest son home for the holidays is that he’s a fount of quirky web site knowledge. He showed me this article where I learned that the Bible is the most frequently shoplifted book.

“…But perhaps the most intriguing bookworm of all is the bibliokleptomaniac, or what we like to call the kleptobrainiac. These people are book thieves, the nerdiest outlaws this side of Hogwarts…”

Also ranking high on the list of purloined books:The Virgin Suicides, The Naked Lunch and On the Road.

Who steals books? “It’s mostly younger men stealing the books,” he told Rabb, “They think it’s an existential rite of passage to steal their homeboy.”

Feel free to purge your conscience before the start of the of the New Year. Have you ever shoplifted anything? If so, what?