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Manhattan D.A. Indicts Two People for Running $1 Million Fencing Operation

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Rehana’s Cosmetics, a perfume and cosmetics store located just blocks from the Macy’s flagship in midtown Manhattan, allegedly held more than $1 million in goods stolen from retailers including Macy’s, Ulta Beauty, CVS, Walgreens and Rite Aid. As part of a long-term investigation in cooperation with these retailers, Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg has charged two people, and the store itself, with one count each of Criminal Possession of Stolen Property in the first, second and third degrees.

“Through our investigation, we found that Rehana’s Cosmetics was well-known to shoplifters, who would willingly bring them stolen items,” said Bragg, as reported by CNBC. “We allege that created a motive for shoplifters to steal, and thus that the defendants, we allege, were drivers of crime.”

Details from the Manhattan D.A.’s Investigation

According to court documents and statements made on the record, the store was holding items not typically sold in perfume and cosmetics stores, such as designer purses, OTC medications, kitchenware, toys and household appliances. The D.A.’s office, executing search warrants of the store and its storage units in January 2024, found stolen property that filled 450 medium cardboard boxes. Macy’s was the source of $212,000 worth of merchandise, with the rest taken from the cooperating retailers as well as Victoria’s Secret, Bath & Body Works and the NHL Store.

“Retail theft is a scourge that impacts our local businesses and jeopardizes the safety of employees and customers alike,” said Bragg in a statement. “We must use every tool in our toolbox to address the root causes of retail theft, and a critical piece of that is upstream, proactive investigations into those who stand to profit. In addition to disrupting fencing networks we will continue to target the small number of recidivists who are driving a significant amount of retail theft and ensure appropriate accountability.”

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Retail Crime Conversations Intensify

The charges come at a time when theft and retail crimes are top of mind for many in the industry, although questions remain about their sources and overall impact.

In December 2023 the NRF updated a report that had attributed “nearly half” of 2021’s $94.5 billion in retail shrink to organized retail crime (ORC). In comments provided to Retail TouchPoints, an NRF spokesperson said: “We recognize the challenges the retail industry and law enforcement have with gathering and analyzing an accurate and agreed-upon set of data to measure the number of incidents in communities across the country.”

In August 2023, executives from retailers including Dick’s Sporting Goods, Lowe’s and Target blamed retail crime in part for poor financial performance as well as for jeopardizing the safety of associates and customers.

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