Customers help break up Oregon shoplifting ring
A group of Home Depot customers in Beaverton, Ore., helped authorities solve a dozen shoplifting cases involving close to $500,000 in stolen merchandise from a variety of businesses, according to an article in the Portland Tribune.
Police said that three suspects were taken into custody on Dec. 26 after shoppers reported two men wheeling a shopping cart full of merchandise through an emergency exit door at the Beaverton store around 11:30 a.m. After watching the men load the goods into a waiting utility trailer, the witnesses took down a description of the car — a black Toyota 4-Runner — before it drove away.
Officers soon stopped the vehicle and trailer and detained the three men. Inside they found more than $1,200 worth of Home Depot merchandise and returned it to the business, according to the report.
Upon further investigation, police learned that the men may have been involved in dozens of similar thefts. Authorities found storage lockers full of items, including tools and equipment from construction sites, appliances from new residential construction projects, two ski boats, three enclosed utility trailers, a 24-ft. recreational vehicle, and computers and equipment from local businesses and restaurants. The estimated total of the stolen merchandise was $484,441.
Arrested and charged with first-degree theft were 34-year-old William George Hazelwood III, a transient; 45-year-old Michael O’Sullivan of Beaverton; and 35-year-old Charles Daniel Smith of Tualatin.
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The next time someone decides to steal something, they better make sure there really is no one looking. Thanks to the alertness and cooperation of the customers in the store, the police were able to quite easily apprehend the criminals. Looking at the number of things they had stolen, I wonder how they were able to so easily walk out the doors with those goods. Christopher - stoett
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Sears brings in a new merchandising leader
Sears Holdings hired Ron Boire as executive VP and chief merchandising officer. Boire, who previously was president and CEO of Brookstone, will lead merchandising and retail stores for both the Sears and Kmart brands.
He will work with the company’s leadership team to better serve its customers and Shop Your Way Rewards Members by integrating their experiences across stores, online, services and mobile capabilities, the company said.
"We are in the midst of a transformation of our business, from top to bottom, as we seek to become the leading integrated retailer in the country," said Lou D’Ambrosio, Sears Holdings’ CEO and president. "By attracting someone with Ron’s significant experience in retail, merchandising and product development as well as in leading companies through turnarounds, we’re adding a key talent in accelerating our transformation."
The move comes shortly after Sears announced plans to close 100 to 120 Sears and Kmart stores.
D’Ambrosio added, "We have made some difficult decisions recently and will make the hard choices necessary to turn our business around going forward. At the same time, we will continue to invest to better serve our customers by delivering world-class, integrated experiences across our stores, our online sites, our services and our mobile capabilities And we will continue to invest in our people, ensuring that we have the talent and skills necessary to effect this transformation."
Prior to Brookstone, Boire served as president, U.S. Toys, North America for Toys "R" Us from 2006 to 2009, overseeing merchandising, marketing and operations for 600 stores in the United States and 70 in Canada. He joined Toys "R" Us after serving as the executive VP global merchandise manager for Best Buy, responsible for managing Best Buy’s $30 billion U.S. Business Teams, global technology and vendor management, global sourcing and private label development. Before that, Boire served in a variety of increasingly senior roles during a 17-year career at Sony Electronics Inc., including president of Sony’s Consumer Sales Co. and president of Sony’s Personal Mobile Products Co.
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D'Ambrosio's comment "continue to invest....world class....experiences"......shows how out of touch they are with the customer. Wonder how many stores he has been in without notice, but then would he know what was wrong if he did? Do not know how strong Borie is, but he is now working for retail clueless execs, esp. Lampert.
Court ruling points to need for retailers to be vigilant about defective goods
In a case involving a car battery that exploded in a consumer’s hands, a federal court in New Jersey has reaffirmed the longstanding notion that retailers can be found strictly liable when they sell defective products. The Nov. 2 decision by U.S. District Court Judge Peter G. Sheridan potentially places a heavy burden on home improvement chains and other retailers considered “experts” in their industries.
The implications of this ruling could be far-reaching. For example, it puts the onus on retailers to be thoroughly familiar with the products they sell and the packaging in which those products are delivered. Further, it is likely this opinion will be cited in other product liability actions, including failure-to-warn cases in which plaintiffs sue retailers because they were not told about product defects. It is imperative that retailers deal with these issues proactively in order to protect their consumers and themselves from liability.
In the case (DeGennaro v. Rally Manufacturing, 09-cv-443), the plaintiff claimed injury after a lead-acid battery he had just bought at a New Jersey Pep Boys location exploded in his hand and against his body. He sued both the manufacturer and the retailer. Based upon the evidence, the judge ruled that Pep Boys’ management “knew or should have known” that the battery had the propensity to explode because of the heat-sealed packaging. Pep Boys was therefore not allowed to take advantage of certain safe harbor provisions that can protect sellers from product liability.
The plaintiff’s counsel successfully argued that the use of heat-sealed packaging was inappropriate because it failed to properly ventilate the batteries. Pep Boys filed a motion for summary judgment on the product liability claims, seeking to take advantage of the safe harbor provisions of the New Jersey Products Liability Act, but the court wouldn’t hear of it.
The safe harbor provisions only protect product sellers under certain circumstances. They have to be able to identify a manufacturer against whom relief may be obtained, and they cannot have created the defect in the product in the first place. If they knew or should have known of the product defect, they cannot seek safe harbor. Likewise, they cannot have controlled the product’s design, manufacture, packaging or labeling.
In order to reduce their risk of being found liable in such cases, home improvement retailers should redouble their efforts to become thoroughly aware of any defects associated with the products they sell. But this is only the first step — they should also work with their legal counsel to determine the appropriate course of action once those defects or potential defects are uncovered. When a conversation about potential defects in products being sold occurs, for instance, it is essential that the retailer ‘close the loop’ on such discussions. This might include discussing the issue with outside counsel familiar with counseling clients on product liability issues.
In DeGennaro, there was some evidence that Pep Boys knew of the propensity for explosion of the lead-acid batteries in question and yet continued to sell them anyway. The message for retailers is clear — you are responsible for the products leaving your store, and it is therefore your legal responsibility to make sure they are safe.
Thomas C. Regan is a Newark, N.J.-based shareholder in national law firm LeClairRyan. Regan focuses his practice on products liability defense and counseling companies on product liability issues outside of a litigation context. He was not involved in the Pep Boys case.
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