Florida retailers strict on shoplifter prosecution

Stuart Fla. Dec. 24, 2007
Attention, Wal-Mart shoplifters: There's a blue-lighted patrol car waiting for you in the parking lot, complete with a back-seat prisoner cage and custom-fitted handcuffs.

"It's always important to steal that perfect gift for the person you love," Stuart police Sgt. Marty Jacobson joked of the holiday spike in shoplifting calls and arrests.

The new Stuart Wal-Mart is by far the busiest spot in Martin County, with 106 shoplifting calls for 2007 through the first week of December. Sears at the Treasure Coast Square mall had the second-highest number of calls, 73.

That doesn't mean Wal-Mart and Sears have more shoplifters than stores of comparable size, Jacobson said. It just means their in-house security staff and technology are very good.

"They give us good cases. They give them to us signed, sealed and delivered," Jacobson said.

And while some people try to play the Christmas card when they are caught, claiming they can't afford presents or food for their kids, police and sheriff's investigators said it's rare to find a thief who is truly needy.

Churches, private charities and social service agencies have programs to help needy families with meals and gifts over the holidays. They may not put a Wii under the tree, but no one will go hungry or giftless.

"There is no reason in this community to shoplift for your family," Stuart police Sgt. Dan Pantel said.

Many of those caught with an item tucked in a purse or shoved in a pocket have cash or credit cards in their wallets, police say. Some steal for the thrill of it and some have convinced themselves they are entitled to a little thievery to compensate for "corporate greed."

Retail groups estimate more than $30 billion is lost nationally each year to shoplifting, employee theft, vendor fraud and administrative errors.

That translates to higher prices for consumers on everything from food to plasma televisions.

Jacobson said he recalls being called out on a case where a shopper ate a bag of pistachio nuts as he walked around a store and then refused to pay for it.

"It was $4.99. But $4.99 is $4.99," Jacobson said.

Those tend to be what security experts call opportunistic shoplifters. Those are people who see something they want and take it on the spur of the moment without much, if any, planning.

On the other end of the spectrum are what experts call professional shoplifters, who use special boxes and bags to conceal merchandise and use elaborate diversions to distract loss prevention officers.

Self-service checkouts are popular with the big-ticket shoplifters, who may switch the price codes on expensive items to have them ring up as low-cost merchandise.

Others conceal stolen items in diaper bags and strollers, hoping security officers will be reluctant to disturb a baby to check for contraband.

Professionals don't seem to be hitting Martin County, although they tend to come in waves from other counties, officials said.

More common is the third category of shoplifter: teenagers.

The Treasure Coast Square mall in Jensen Beach sees more teenagers than do the retailers in Stuart, and shoplifting calls for the Martin County Sheriff's Office spike in June, the end of the school year.

Spencer Gifts, which carries novelty items and other merchandise popular with young people, is aggressive in catching shoplifters. Claire's Accessories, which carries inexpensive jewelry and accessories popular with teens, also is high on the call list.

"A lot of times these are first-time offenders," said sheriff's Detective Stephen Leighton.

The mall is a popular gathering place for teenagers for shopping, movies and the food court. It has strict rules on loitering, and most stores take a hard line on shoplifting.

But Leighton said there seems to be an increase in thefts when a new CD, fashion item or electronics device becomes the must-have item for teenagers.

A shoplifting arrest typically comes with a warning against trespassing. Those warnings also are strictly enforced, meaning a kid caught stealing a cool key chain from Spencer won't be able to enter the store until the warning is lifted.

What some would-be shoplifters may not know is that a recent change in Florida law allows retailers to go after thieves civilly, collecting a minimum of $200 and up to triple the cost of the stolen item plus legal fees.

That pack of gum could be very expensive.

And if thieves make it to their car with the stolen goods, they could face forfeiture of the vehicle because it was used to transport stolen property, Jacobson said.

Another little-known provision of the law makes it a separate crime to run or resist when a merchant or security officer tells a suspect to stop.
"When a merchant says, 'Tag, you're it,' you cannot resist," Jacobson said.

Cyber Crooks fish In Your Waters!

SAN JOSE, CALIF.: Dec. 25, 2007
 Somewhere in St. Petersburg, Russia's second biggest city, a tiny startup has struck Internet gold. Its dozen-odd employees are barely old enough to recall the demise of the Soviet Union, but industry analysts believe they're raking in more than $100 million a year from the world's largest banks, including Wells Fargo and Washington Mutual.

Their two-year rise might be the greatest success story of the former Eastern Bloc's high-tech boom — if only it weren't so illegal. The cash might be coming from your bank account, and they could be using the computer in your den to commit their crimes.

The enigmatic company, which the security community has dubbed ''Rock Phish,'' has rapidly grown into a giant of the Internet underground by perfecting a common form of Internet crime known as ''phishing.'' The thieves capture people's personal computers, then use them to send phony e-mail that tricks other users into revealing private financial information.

''Rock is the standard. They'rethe Microsoft,'' said Jose Nazario, a researcher at security company Arbor Networks. ''Everyone else is a bit player.''

As big as Rock Phish has become, though, it is a sliver of a much larger problem.
During the past few years, a professional class bent on stealthy online fraud has transformed Internet crime, rendering obsolete the hobbyist hackers who sought fun and fame. These Al Capones of the information age are like ghosts in our Web browsers, silently taking over our computers, stealing digital bits and turning our data into cash.

They've created a sophisticated cyberspace shadow economy, which government and research firms estimate costs us tens of billions of dollars annually. The crimes themselves, and their staggering effect on our wallets, are disturbing. Yet the greater concern is the failure of corporate executives, government leaders and average citizens to comprehend the mounting threat and fight back.

''People talk about a 'Digital Pearl Harbor,' but that's already happened,'' said Rick Wesson, chief executive of Support Intelligence, one of many companies in the California area known as Silicon Valley battling these cybercriminals. ''It's just that people don't understand it has happened.''

Snowballing problem
Organized online crime didn't appear out of nowhere — security experts have been tracking its growth for years — but by almost every measure, it's exploding: The number of new pieces of malicious software, or ''malware,'' tripled in the first half of this year compared with the previous six months, according to computer security company Symantec. And the number of phishing Web sites spotted in the first three months of 2007 by security software maker McAfee skyrocketed 784 percent compared with the year before.

These attacks cost real people real money — individual Americans lost at least $200 million last year to online fraud — and that's just the people who took the time to report their misfortune to the FBI's Internet Crime Complaint Center. Those 200,000 cyberfraud victims said they were swindled out of an average of $724 — an amount small enough to discourage individual reporting and to help keep Rock Phish relatively hidden.

Businesses are hit even harder: Average annual losses doubled to $345,000 per company in the 2007 Computer Security Institute survey. A 2006 FBI estimate pegged the total cost of cybercrime to businesses at more than $67 billion.

These statistics exclude a variety of additional, indirect costs to U.S. citizens: higher retail prices and banking fees, declining stock values, lower wages and decreased tax revenue.

None of the figures is perfect. Security vendors, research firms and law enforcement all have an incentive to inflate the numbers when it might mean increasing sales, visibility or funding. At the other extreme, businesses like banks are motivated to play down the problem. Yet the general trend is clear to almost everyone who has studied Internet security: Cybercrime is pervasive, and getting worse.

''The volume in absolute numbers is going through the roof,'' said Mark Harris, global director of SophosLabs, the research unit of British security vendor Sophos. ''We've simply stopped counting.''

The Internet has handed postmodern swindlers an endless supply of marks, and cheap tools to attack millions with a single click.

In phishing, one of the most successful scams, people are tricked into revealing their passwords and other account information by phony e-mail that purports to come from banks. Cybercriminals then use that information to pilfer money. The first such schemes hit America Online members a decade ago. The attacks then spread to e-mail, targeting eBay and banks. Before long, Americans were getting phished by the thousands.

How they fool you
Some people are lured to visiting Web pages containing malware, either by inadvertently visiting infected sites or by clicking on an e-mailed link. There, a pixel-size frame, invisible to the user, stealthily installs code onto the computers of visitors lacking the latest Web browser security updates. Most users have no idea such a ''drive-by download'' has taken place, even as these Trojan horses surreptitiously log their banking passwords or other private information.

Criminals are increasingly hiding this malware within apparently safe sites. Last year, Circuit City acknowledged its customer-support site had been hacked and was serving up dangerous code, allowing hackers to take control of visitors' PCs.
In an April research paper called The Ghost in the Browser, a Google security team led by Niels Provos described a digital hunt through billions of Web pages searching for malicious sites. Using a process Provos calls ''conservative,'' the team identified more than 450,000 Web pages that included malicious code, and 700,000 that ''seemed'' dangerous. Google says the numbers are now much larger.
Even the least technical crooks can launch phishing campaigns or control a network of millions of hacked computers at the touch of a button, by purchasing do-it-yourself cybercrime kits.

For about $1,000 on underground sites, you can buy MPack, a full-service malware attack and distribution kit, which lets you host a Web page that infects any user who visits. Owners can even monitor the number, type and location of infections from MPack's handy console page.

Worldwide epidemic
Dave DeWalt stood beneath the massive mounted television screen in April, staring at thousands of dots as they flickered across the continents of a digital world map. Each represented a real-time cyberspace attack: green for dozens of spam e-mails spewed out in the past six hours, amber for hundreds and red for more than 500 sent.

DeWalt was inside a corporate laboratory in Aylesbury, England, roughly 5,000 miles from the headquarters of Mc-Afee, which he had recently joined as chief executive. Mc-Afee researchers had narrowed down to a one-mile radius the locations of computers hurling out e-mail to swindle, scam or make life miserable for Internet users.

Dots appeared inside university dorms, popped up across the Middle East, swarmed through Eastern Europe. In more than 20 years in the tech industry, DeWalt had never seen anything like it. He began to understand something few Americans — even at the highest levels of government, business and academia — are able to grasp: the complex reality of the omnipresent cybercrime crisis, spreading worldwide, from Silicon Valley to Southeast Asia.

''I came into McAfee not knowing what was going to hit me,'' DeWalt said. ''It's becoming an epidemic.''

This plague of online crime isn't just chaotic wrongdoing on a mass scale — it has coalesced into an interconnected industry that runs the gamut from virus writing to money laundering. Seemingly separate attacks like spam, phishing scams, viruses and Trojans, botnets and data breaches are the ugly Hydra heads of a single, complex beast that functions much like a legitimate market.

An organized crime syndicate might buy a trove of e-mail addresses culled from a data breach; spam e-mail with a Trojan attached; absorb recipients' computers into a ''botnet'' that it rents out to a phishing group, which sends its own e-mails purporting to be from a major bank, asking users to log onto sites hosted on a different botnet; and then steal money from those accounts and launder them through mules, with everyone taking a cut of the proceeds.

Not even Rock Phish stands alone — evidence points to links between these phishers and the Russian Business Network, an Internet service that plays host to several cybercriminals, according to anti-cybercrime detectives at VeriSign iDefense, as well as other researchers.

The online crooks are constantly bartering, buying and renting from one another, just as Microsoft and Google rely on other tech companies for the products and services that keep their corporations functioning.

Teenage girl accussed of violent attack

SAVANNAH, Ga. Dec. 26, 2007 - Police say a teen-age girl violently attacked an 85-year-old man in his home, stole his identification and credit cards and fled through a broken window.

When Veronica Mitchell, 17, was arrested Sunday afternoon, she was covered in blood and was carrying the items she took from the victim at his home on Savannah's eastside, police said.

Mitchell was charged with aggravated assault, financial transaction card theft and felony obstruction by fleeing. She was ordered held without bail at the Chatham County Jail.

The victim, whose identity was not released, was found unconscious and taken to a hospital, where he was in critical condition, the area news reported.

Investigators are not saying at the moment if the victim knew the teenage girl prior to the attack or if this he was just a random target but police are saying that they are shocked at the amount of physical damage that the young girl did to the elderly man.

Nightclub security accussed of assault

Des Moines Ia. Dec. 26, 2007
A Des Moines man said he was caught in the middle of a bar fight early Sunday morning, but contends that the injuries he suffered came at the hands of the bar's security guards. Ryan York, 22, said he watched a fight at the 101 Lounge, 101 Third St., as it moved from inside the bar to the adjacent parking lot at about 1:15 a.m., according to a police report.

York said while he watched the fight, security guards kneed him in the back, forced him to the ground and handcuffed him, according to the report. While he was on the ground, one of (the) security officers continued kicking him, his face and bodys area, until his friend threatened the security officers to call the police, according to the report.The report lists three witnesses to the incident. Two of the witnesses are listed only by first name, and no additional witness information was provided. One of the listed witnesses, identified only as Brian, is listed as a security officer at the bar. According to the report, Brian asked the other security guards if he could take York inside the bar after the fight, and removed York's handcuffs. York suffered bruises and red marks to his face and torso, according to the report. Three suspects are listed in the report three men in their 20s, with no additional information.

The assault is currently under investigation.

E-Bay Investigators Undercover

RAMNICU VALCEA, ROMANIA -- This small industrial center in the foothills of the Carpathian Mountains is not Albena Spasova's favorite destination. Driving the twisting highway makes her ill. Once she arrives, danger lurks.U.S. Secret Service agents escort her, for her safety. Over the last two years, they have kept watch on dozens of trips, some lasting weeks, others months, as she has spent long days foraging through case files with local police and long nights holed up in one of the town's few hotels, with her windows locked."You don't know who to trust there. You can't use the hotel phone line. When you step outside, you can spot the local hackers in their cars, circling around," said Spasova, 33. "

The Secret Service agents always book my accommodation and make sure I'm in a room next to them."Ramnicu Valcea is an improbable capital of anything, but this obscure town is a global center of Internet and credit card fraud. And Spasova is an accomplished online fraud buster, helping to take down cyber-crime gangs across Romania. She isn't an FBI agent, though, nor a Romanian police officer.Spasova works for EBay Inc. No one, it turns out, does Internet auction fraud like the Romanians. Bulgarians specialize in intellectual property theft; Ukraine is a leader in online credit card crime; the Russians have a profitable niche in Internet dating fraud. But when it comes to online auctions, particularly for big-ticket items such as cars that can yield $5,000 a scam, Romanians own the game. Romanian police estimate that cyber-crime is now a multimillion-dollar national industry, as important to organized criminals here as drug smuggling or human trafficking.The Internet Crime Complaint Center, a partnership between the FBI and the National White Collar Crime Center, ranks Romania fifth in its table of naughty nations. But most experts agree that doesn't give Romanian criminals their due. Much of the cash being made on auction fraud reported as originating in the U.S., Canada, Britain, Spain or Italy is actually being picked up in those countries by Romanian money mules. An EBay fraud ring busted last year in Chicago, for example, has been traced to Pitesti, Romania. EBay, which doesn't even operate a site in Romania, won't talk dollar figures but acknowledges that the country is the No. 1 source of "professional fraud." On a November 2006 visit to the Romanian capital, Bucharest, FBI Director Robert Mueller said the vast majority of Internet fraud committed on "one prominent U.S. online auction website is connected to Romania or Romanians."That poses a problem for EBay. The San Jose-based auction giant has built its popularity and staked its reputation on self-policing feedback. Its system depends on buyers and sellers trusting one another -- to send money and to deliver the goods. Yet EBay users are the daily targets of phishing scams, spoof e-mails and fake listing attacks. Such schemes don't cost EBay any money. But some of its customers pay dearly. And they expect EBay to do something about it."The fraudsters need to know we're coming after them," said Rob Chesnut, Spasova's boss and a former federal prosecutor who set up EBay's Trust and Safety division. "EBay doesn't have a product. We are in the trust business: making people feel comfortable doing business with someone they don't know," he said. "If the bad guys have no fear of prosecution, they will continue to try to defraud users. So there has to be a cost to trying."Computer expertsRomania is a grim place in more ways than one. Former pro-Nazi regime, then Soviet outpost, then weird Communist dictatorship and now developing nation: Per-capita income here is just one-third the European Union average. Fearing a flood of cheap labor, most European countries have barred or restricted Romanians from job hunting in their countries.The country is dotted with shuttered factories, such as the Aerofina plant on the outskirts of Bucharest, opposite a potholed parking lot. This plant once built missile launchers and ejector seats for the Romanian air force's MiG-15s.These days, though, there's something different going on here. Spread across the factory's dimly lighted third floor, 30 young Softwin computer programmers tap softly at their keyboards, tuning up the antivirus engines that power BitDefender, a software package starting at $25 that detects new computer viruses and releases programs to fight them. In the last two years, BitDefender has been named a "Best Buy" by PC World magazine and garnered other kudos from Consumer Reports and the website TopTenReviews. IBM was impressed enough that it recently inked a deal to integrate BitDefender's anti-spyware and anti-virus smarts into its own virus prevention system.Surprisingly, Romania has more than its fair share of homegrown computer security talent. Besides Softwin, the Bucharest firm GeCAD provided the technology for Microsoft's Windows Live OneCare anti-virus engine. Another half a dozen independent anti-virus companies, among them AxelSoft, Avira and Provision, are active in the capital; 11 more have been bought by foreign firms in the last four years.Why here? "The respect for math is inside every family, even simple families, who are very proud to say their children are good at mathematics," said Radu Gologan, a senior research scientist at the Institute of Mathematics in downtown Bucharest.And the country has years of experience with computers. In the 1980s, Romania was considered a Soviet satellite state, but dictator Nicolae Ceausescu hated bowing to the Russians. He refused to buy computers from Moscow, demanding that Romania build its own. While the Bulgarians built personal computers, Romania specialized in minicomputers such as the Felix C, based on Honeywell Bull's C11.Florin Talpes, now a local entrepreneur, learned the art of reverse engineering at the Institute for Technology, Computing and Informatics.

We would get hold of a minicomputer . . . and take it apart, reverse-engineering the operating system, the networking software, the hardware," Talpes said. "We developed a deep understanding, to the level of bits, of computing architecture, processing and software applications. We did it so that we could design a better operating system, better software, better hardware."Forced to learn every bit of American silicon, every line of code, a generation of Romanians developed an aptitude for delving into the innards of machine code, using reverse engineering to deconstruct, anticipate and destroy viruses.But if you're good at fixing the problems, you're also good at creating them. If you can stop viruses or Internet fraud, you're also in a position to make them happen.'Second chance' scamsA classic Romanian scam is the "second chance auction." The mark: an EBay user who has narrowly lost an auction. The scammers can see that the user was prepared to spend, say, $145 on a particular item. They will then try to guess the user's e-mail address so that they can make contact off the EBay platform to offer a second chance to buy the item. Users commonly have the same e-mail address as their EBay user name, so the scammers may send out 50 e-mail messages using an EBay user name and the most common domain names such as Gmail, Hotmail and Yahoo.The Romanian scammers then cook up elaborate stories to persuade their victims to send money via unrecoverable methods such as Western Union -- even instructing people not to tell Western Union the payment is for an EBay transaction, claiming Western Union will charge them an EBay surcharge of 10% (it doesn't), and instead to say they're sending money to their Romanian cousin.FBI Special Agent Gary Dickson, who works out of the U.S. Embassy in Bucharast helping EBay and other Internet companies chase down online auction and credit card fraudsters, says Romanian criminals are getting smarter."These gangs are very professional and take pains to avoid being detected," Dickson said. "They are highly organized and compartmentalized and use lots of middlemen. Everyone has a different job to do, and they communicate in different ways to avoid being intercepted. The whole operation is run just like a business."A typical gang might have a "copy and paste" department, responsible purely for e-mailing pre-written scripts in reply to questions from EBay bidders. Some workers might create or buy phishing or escrow websites; another acquires fraudulent credit card details; others get fake IDs for couriers. The gang might hire a dozen students via online job boards, renting them an apartment where they do nothing but copy and paste e-mails. After maybe three months, this "factory" will disband as the gang moves elsewhere.It's old-style fraud using high-tech tools. Romanian scammers are fond of using prepaid wireless modems that make it easier for them to avoid being traced. Some gangs also set up their own Internet service providers to escape or delay detection.EBay's crime fightersSpasova -- backed up by an EBay developer, analyst and data administrator -- began hunting down Romanian fraudsters for the online auctioneer in 2005. The first time she traveled to Ramnicu Valcea, she found just two law enforcement officers trying to clear a backlog of more than 200 EBay cases, armed with one 9-year-old computer and no Internet connection. To go online, the police had to use the same Internet cafes frequented by the fraudsters. "There are a lot of scammers in Romania who believe they are untouchable, immune," EBay's Chesnut says. "They're sitting in their apartments in Ramnicu Valcea feeling like, 'There's no way EBay is going to get me.' "But Spasova knew the situation wasn't hopeless -- if local authorities could get more training and technical help. Spasova, Bulgarian by birth, was educated at a Bucharest university and worked for the American Bar Assn. after the fall of communism in the region, promoting law reform in Moldova and Bulgaria. By the end of the 1990s, she was helping the association train law enforcement officers, judges and prosecutors to counter money laundering and the emerging threat of cyber-crime."Even in 2001, I was meeting judges who thought cyber-crime was someone stealing a computer," she says.To give the Romanian police a fighting chance, EBay has donated computers, digital cameras and Internet connections. In her first 12 months on the job, Spasova established relationships with law enforcement officers in 24 of Romania's 42 districts and with local ISPs. After she had won their confidence, Spasova and her small team began working cases with local police, matching evidence with data from EBay's Fraud Investigation Team database, such as the Internet protocol addresses, which are unique to each computer, used when a fraudulent auction was posted -- the sort of information that could help police pinpoint the scammers' location and begin surveillance. Through Spasova, the U.S. Secret Service also pitched in, donating forensic software and providing intelligence on fraud networks from its field agents.But moving cases from the investigative to the judicial stage is another challenge. Spasova has been educating Romanian prosecutors too, explaining the nuances of phishing and other ways in which EBay accounts are compromised "so that when a prosecutor goes to a judge, he can use layman's language rather than terms the judge will not be familiar with."In the last two years, Spasova and her colleagues have trained hundreds of prosecutors and a magistrate from each province on dealing with cyber-crime.

Virgil Spiridon, chief of the Romania national police's 4-year-old cyber-crime unit, rattles off some of the headway his team of 10 investigators has been making."Last year, 115 people were arrested and 831 crimes identified by police," Spiridon reads from his notebook. "We pressed charges against 61 people, identified 65 organized groups and 28 cases have been sent to the courts." He pauses and looks up."But we are running to keep up."Most of the arrests to date have been of low-level couriers and money mules -- the bagmen, not the brains at the top, the FBI's Dickson said. Likewise, Spasova acknowledges the mammoth task that still lies ahead of the chronically understaffed and underfunded Romanian police. "In Ramnicu Valcea, police raided a local Internet cafe and arrested kids doing fraud," she says. "But two hours later, they returned and found others had taken their place." There are cultural and structural obstacles too. Under Romanian law, for example, victims of Internet fraud must send police a signed complaint and be represented at the hearing, which makes pressing a case on behalf of an American EBay customer nearly impossible. "The judicial process can take forever," Spasova says. "Because the victims aren't present, there is no sense of immediacy. It's hard to know who to trust when the mothers and fathers of fraudsters know the mother and father of the judge or local politicians."Romania has taught EBay a lesson: the importance of "addressing a problem region before we have a problem," said Matt Henley, senior manager of EBay's Technical Investigations and Analysis Group, who has spent time with Spasova in Romania. Henley says EBay is now alert to threats from "regions we weren't paying attention to" and, thanks to Romania, has a ready-to-deploy government-relations-in-a-box program it can take anywhere in the world.Spasova has a new assignment from EBay: persuading Interpol, Europol and law enforcement agencies across Europe to communicate directly with one another and EBay on cyber-crime issues. But her jaunts to Ramnicu Valcea will continue. "Even though these frauds are not happening on our platform, we're not showing a loss, and there are no victims in court . . . we're sending out a message that someone is taking care of this," she says.

Shoplifters steal TV's; threaten agent with gun

Mesa AZ. Dec. 28, 2007
Mesa police arrested two men Wednesday on suspicion of stealing two televisions valued at $600 from a Wal-Mart after they allegedly threatened an employee.Brent Dansby, 21, and Dale Robinson, 20, entered the Wal-Mart near Greenfield Road and Baseline roads about 12:45 p.m. and were spotted a short time later by a loss-prevention officer leaving the store without paying for the TVs, police said.The loss-prevention officer asked the men for a receipt, but they kept walking. The officer continued to ask for a receipt until Robinson told the man he had a gun, according to a police report.

Robinson told Dansby to get a gun from their vehicle, and the men loaded the TVs into the trunk and left, according to the report.A police officer spotted the vehicle headed westbound on U.S. 60, and followed it to a residence in the 3900 block of South Roberts Road in Tempe. The men went inside the home.Dansby and Robinson were detained by police when they exited the home. The men denied taking the TVs and threatening the loss prevention officer.Security video at the store showed the men leaving with the TVs, police said.Dansby was on probation for possession of burglary tools, and Robinson was on probation for misconduct involving weapons. They were booked on charges of aggravated burglary.

Shoplifter attacks security with knife

CARLSBAD CA. Dec. 28, 2007— A Carlsbad man was arrested Sunday at Wal-Mart after allegedly stuffing several items from the store into his clothing and then pulling a knife when he was confronted by store security, a police report stated.
Robert M. Rodriguez, 44, of the 300 block of Peachtree Street, was also charged for having a syringe in his shirt pocket, which he allegedly said was for drug use purposes.

When Carlsbad police arrived at Wal-Mart, they were told that store security had been watching Rodriguez in the electronics department of the store. When he moved to the furniture department, they saw him stick several DVDs inside the front of his jacket.

When Rodriguez was confronted by store personnel about the alleged theft, he said he did not have any movies. One of the store officers tapped on the movies in his jacket and Rodriguez turned and began to run out of the store.

Before Rodriguez could get out of the store, security caught up with him and he turned toward them, pulling a knife out of his pocket. Before he could open the knife, store security was able to take Rodriguez into custody, the report stated.

As store security staff was struggling with Rodriguez, they reportedly found several other store items in his jacket.

When Carlsbad police were hand cuffing Rodriguez, they saw a syringe in his shirt pocket. Rodriguez admitted he was stealing items from the store to get money for more drugs, the report said.

In January of 1998, Rodriguez had been issued criminal trespass warnings in an attempt to prevent him from entering the Wal-Mart store in the future.

Rodriguez was being held Wednesday at the Eddy County Detention Center.