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Off-duty police chief shops for carpet, catches thieves

BY Brae Canlen

Police Chief William Bilinski had just purchased some brown outdoor carpet on July 24 when he noticed something suspicious going on in the parking lot of Lowe’s, according to a story in the Times-Tribune of Scranton, Pa. Four people were sitting in a vehicle just outside the store; after they moved the vehicle in front of the garden center, two of the occupants went inside.

The head of the Dickson City police force loaded his wife, kids and carpet into his car and then watched a woman walk past the garden center checkout counter with a large tool kit. She got into the vehicle and the group took off.

Bilinski took down the license plate, called the local cops and followed the vehicle on to the Interstate, when he called state police. Soon after state troopers caught up with the suspects and found the tool chest, valued at $329, plus a package of meat that was believed to be stolen.

All four will be charged with retail theft and conspiracy to commit retail theft, according to the newspaper report.

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CFLs: A buck a bulb in South Dakota

BY Brae Canlen

A partnership between Xcel Energy, a utility company that provides power to South Dakota, and home improvement retailers will offer compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFLs) for as little as a dollar each. The program, announced on July 23, is designed to help residents save energy and money.

Participating retailers include Nyberg’s Ace Hardware, Robson True Value, Home Depot, Menards and Tea Ace Hardware. In some cases, the discounted CFLs will be sold as singles; in others, they may only be available in multi-packs.

Xcel Energy, which operates in eight states, also offers $10 off certain LED bulbs as part of the program. 

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Pending home sales slip in June

BY HBSDEALER Staff

The Pending Home Sales Index, a forward-looking indicator based on contract signings, fell 1.4% to 99.3 in June from a downwardly revised 100.7 in May but is 9.5% higher than June 2011 when it was 90.7, according to the National Association of Realtors (NAR). The data reflect contracts but not closings.

The index marks 14 consecutive months of year-over-year gains.

“Buyer interest remains strong but fewer home listings mean fewer contract signing opportunities,” said Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist. “We’ve been seeing a steady decline in the level of housing inventory, which is most pronounced in the lower price ranges popular with first-time buyers and investors.” 

According to the Realtors Confidence Index, the buyer traffic index was 60 in June, while the seller index was 41, which shows an imbalance between buyer and seller interest. A value of 50 implies neutral market conditions. 

The PHSI in the Northeast fell 7.6% to 76.6 in June but is 12.2% higher than a year ago. In the Midwest, the index slipped 0.4% to 94.4 in June but is 17.3% above June 2011. Pending home sales in the South declined 2.0% to an index of 106.2 in June but are 8.8% above a year earlier. In the West, the index rose 2.6% in June to 111.5 and is 3.0% higher than June 2011.

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