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Blake points to supply chain milestone

BY HBSDEALER Staff

After completing its build-out of 19 Rapid Deployment Centers (RDCs), Home Depot now faces opportunities to make them better, said CEO Frank Blake.

Speaking during the company’s fourth-quarter earnings conference, Blake said the milestone completes the RDC build-out, "at least for the next several years."

Blake described the restructuring as an "enormous undertaking," and credited Mark Holifield and his supply chain team.  

 

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Pending home sales decline in January

BY HBSDEALER Staff

Pending home sales are down in January for the second straight month, and are down 1.5% compared with the January 2010 figure, according to the National Association of Realtors (NAR).

The Pending Home Sales Index, a forward-looking indicator, declined 2.8% to 88.9 based on contracts signed in January from a downwardly revised 91.5 in December. The index is 1.5% below the 90.3 level in January 2010 when a tax credit stimulus was in place. The data reflects contracts and not closings, which normally occur with a lag time of one or two months.

The NAR pointed out that the current Pending Home Sales Index is 20.6% ahead of the cyclical low last June.

Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist, points to the broader trend. “The housing market is healing with sales fluctuating at times, depending on the flow of distressed properties coming on the market,” he said.

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Dozens arrested in Phoenix retail theft ring

BY HBSDEALER Staff

The Scottsdale Police Department, working with fraud investigators from eBay, Home Depot, Walmart and federal authorities, arrested 36 suspects involved in a major retail theft syndicate that returned stolen merchandise to retailers and then auctioned the gift cards on eBay, according to a Feb. 25 news release from the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office. The case has uncovered more than $1.2 million in proceeds from the crime, authorities said. 

The investigation began in April 2010 after an eBay employee noticed suspicious activity on a user account linked to Wayne Clifford Bahlman, whom authorities describe as a ringleader of the theft organization. The account involved numerous auctions of merchandise credit cards through eBay. 

At the same time, Home Depot loss prevention personnel were looking into Bahlman because of suspicious returns and alleged shoplifting activity.

After months of investigation involving a task force that included members of the U.S. Secret Service and the U.S. Postal Authority, police discovered an operation that allegedly recruited and paid individuals to steal objects from Home Depot, Lowe’s and Walmart. These items were then returned for store credit by various individuals, often using stolen identities. The store credit cards were turned over to Bahlman to sell on eBay. 

In another incident, a group of suspects connected to Bahlman were involved in a charity, called Angel Tree Foundation, that purchases new toys for children as Christmas gifts. Unbeknown to the charity, police said, the individuals were returning the new toys to Walmart and bringing the store credit cards to Bahlman.

Bahlman and 35 others were indicted by a grand jury and charged with 50 felony counts, including participation in a criminal syndicate, organized retail theft, fraudulent schemes and artifices, trafficking in stolen property and forgery.

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