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Saks Fifth Avenue Department Stores Command Center
 - In the heart of it - Midtown NYC

By Gus Downing
Publisher & Editor

As one of the nation's leading high-end retailers based in New York City, and with their flagship store within walking distance, this asset protection team faced Sandy from within the very center of the destructive path of the storm. With command centers at their NYC corporate office and at their NYC flagship store, Rosamaria Sostilio, Senior Vice President, Corporate Asset Protection and Tony Caccioppoli, Vice President, Corporate Asset Protection, monitored live and in HD from their two command centers, the storm’s destruction and the impact it had on their stores from the Mid-Atlantic all the way up to Boston.

As a critical part of the senior management team there at Saks Fifth Avenue, and with their total support, this AP organization planned perfectly for such an event with the right technology and the strong relationships throughout the law enforcement and emergency management communities. As the company's "first responders," their crisis management planning truly paid off as they were able to watch real-time events with remote monitoring technology as they occurred along the eastern seaboard at every location impacted by the storm. Paramount to the functionality when designing their surveillance center was to leverage value for their external partners at various city agencies during times of crisis management. By extending their surveillance capabilities to the New York City Police Department allowing them to monitor activities not only outside of their huge flagship location, but neighboring streets, enabled them to have a strong law enforcement presence throughout the event. That presence, coupled with their long term relationships enabled them to add additional real-time information along with their remote monitoring information to truly add value to the senior management team as they navigated the decisions and processes and watched the impact the storm had on their locations.

With stores closed along the east coast, asset protection worked with every group within the organization. From operations to facilities management, to the senior management team, the AP team was focused on delivering real-time information that went beyond the main stream news and allowed Saks Fifth Avenue to respond immediately and effectively in every situation. With stores closed and band-width now dedicated to the remote monitoring technology, the quality, visibility, and access to live events was immeasurable. Their facilities management group, based in Jackson, Miss., was able to see firsthand how Sandy was impacting each store.

As part of their crisis management planning Saks Fifth Avenue had proactively arranged for Asset Protection Associates out of Atlanta, Ga. to provide guard coverage in the event that any of the stores lost power. With designated stores in the path mapped out beforehand, they were able to quickly respond with store coverage and ensure that information relative to each location remained real-time and thorough and that each location was safeguarded for the communities and customers they serve.

As a total company effort, Saks Fifth Avenue's response has been flawless and their AP team has excelled at safeguarding the organization and ensuring that everyone has the information and coverage that is critical during such an event. Rosamaria Sostilio and Tony Caccioppoli where joined by a number of other asset protection executives and associates and their team of first responders braved the storm and, through the ultimate face of adversity, delivered the asset protection services that Saks Fifth Avenue has become known for. And as one of the nation’s leading high-end retailers they continued to show why they're one of the leaders.

Job Well Done


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Over 90 dead in 10 states and 4.1 million homes and businesses still without power and gas lines stretching for miles Frustration — and in some cases fear — mounted in New York City on Thursday, three days after Superstorm Sandy. Traffic backed up for miles at bridges, large crowds waited impatiently for buses into Manhattan, and tempers flared in gas lines. The storm continues to leave its mark. (Source

Shopper's lined up at Home Depot, Wal-Mart and Lowe's stores on Wednesday Retailers monitored the storm through emergency operations centers at their headquarters last week, using global-positioning systems to reroute storm supplies to thousands of stores along the East Coast. At Sam's Club, employees from as far as Pittsburgh came to New Jersey stores to get them up and running by 7 a.m. on Tuesday. Still, as of Wednesday about 35 Wal-Mart stores remained closed, from about 300 that had shut down at the storm's peak. Only two stores each remained closed at Lowe's and Home Depot. To speed up delivery, Home Depot this year for the first time pre-loaded trucks of supplies and asked truck drivers to spend the night in rest stops, parking lots, and hotels inside the storm's path. While retailers will enjoy a sales boost from customers stocking up on storm supplies, it will likely be washed away by losses from store closures, as well as from consumers who will shift some holiday spending to storm cleanup, analysts say. (Source

Wawa Reopens 100 Stores After Storm Shutdowns That leaves 81 of the c-store chain's 601 locations in the dark as of yesterday afternoon. Up to 450 Wawa stores were closed Monday night into Tuesday morning as the superstorm pounded the East Coast, according to the report. (Source

In the lead up to Sandy, Walmart managed to send 7,000 generators last minute to its Northeast stores. The generators arrived via truck just in time to help the stores cope with all affects of the storm. By Monday night of the storm, customers had completely emptied the shelves so Tuesday morning, employees from all over the region came to New Jersey to get the stores up and running by 7 a.m. (Source

The International Council of Shopping Centers sticking to its holiday sales forecast of same store sales increase of 4.5% to 5.5% excluding drugstores, Chief Economist Michael Niemira said. "I don't think it will affect (shoppers') holiday spending one bit whatsoever," said NPD Group chief industry analyst Marshal Cohen. "November is where we will see the impact, but I think it'll be marginal," said Tom Clarke, director of AlixPartners' retail practice. The consulting firm still expects sales for the holiday season to be up 3.5 percent to 4 percent. (Source

Wal-Mart to Expand Self-Checkout Deployment Wal-Mart Stores will be will be installing 10,000 SelfServ checkout lanes inmore than 1,200 locations in the United States during 2013. According to a Reuters report in March, about 1,600 of the more than 3,800 U.S. Wal-Mart stores have self-checkout lanes. Wal-Mart’s plans run counter to steps taken last year by Big Y Foods and Albertsons LLC, which announced they would eliminate self-checkout lanes. (Source

NRF asks judge to reject $7.25B swipe fee settlement The National Retail Federation and more than a dozen of the nation's retailers have asked a judge to reject a proposed $7.25 billion settlement that Visa Inc., MasterCard Inc. and major banks have agreed to pay retailers for alleged fee fixing. The industry group argued in a brief filed Thursday that preliminary approval of the settlement should be denied, saying it should not be eligible for class-action status because it would force a one-size-fits-all solution onto a diverse group of merchants. NRF also argued that a provision barring all retailers, including those who opt out of the settlement, from filing future lawsuits over swipe fees is too broad. (Source

JC Penney CEO edging away from his No Coupon mantra. Within recent weeks as sales have fallen 20 percent, little by little coupons and offers have made their way back to JCP. Prior to back to school it started with free children’s haircuts, then a $10 off back to school coupon, followed by 30% off clearance and finally now, free family photos. Analysts believe this strategy is confusing to the customers and investors. (Source

Modell’s Sporting Goods CEO Mitchell Modell on tonight’s 'Undercover Boss'. Mitchell Modell will go undercover as he ventures to the frontlines of his sporting goods and athletic apparel stores for an unfiltered look into the inner workings of his corporation.

Coach wins $257 Million lawsuit against Internet Counterfeiters. Coach has been awarded $257 million in damages for a massive case of Internet counterfeiting, one of the largest of such cases thus far. Women's Wear Daily reports that Coach can also now seize over 537 domain names currently selling rip-off merchandise under the Coach label, an act known as cybersquatting or domain squatting. Cybersquatting is a growing problem; according to the World Intellectual Property Organization, which adjudicates such legal disputes, the number of cybersquatting cases increased 16 percent in 2009, 28 percent in 2010, 2.5 percent in 2011 -- in other words, more and more each year. (Source

Largest banks under constant cyberattack, feds say Defending against cyberattacks accounts for a significant portion of the $25 billion banks worldwide spend annually on security technology. Homeland Security chief Janet Napolitano says the nation's largest financial institutions "are actively under attack" by cybercriminals, and one expert says it is a trend contributing to the rising security costs of banks. Napolitano told attendees of a cybersecurity event hosted by The Washington Post that the attackers were stealing information and money, but refused during questioning to provide details. (Source

Two security surveillance executives at Hollywood Casino in Dearborn, In., busted paying fake security company invoices for $547,875.33 The men owned a company called Security Surveillance Warehouse, and they would send emails to each other and SSW officials. In the emails Burnett would pose as the SSW official and send quotes on equipment, reply to requests for repairs and email invoices to the Hollywood Casino email accounts of Burnett and Krabbe. The invoices from SSW would be paid with Burnett's Company Credit Card and the General Manager's Credit Card, and then would be submitted by Burnett on his monthly expense report. The scheme ran from Oct. 2009 through Oct. 2011 with total purchases from SSW paid by Hollywood Casino of $547,875.33. (Source

Hacker forums used to induct new criminals. Hacker forums have become a critical global channel through which aspiring criminals are inducted into the ranks of professional cybercrime. Hacker forums are often seen as sinister sideshows to the main story, little more than places cybercriminals go to let off steam, make contacts and do business. A lot of activity on these forums was directed towards 'beginner hacking' (28 percent of threads) and 'hacking tutorials' (5 percent). Posting a good tutorial can gain its author reputation in the community, and can lead to job offers, collaborations, and invitations to deeper, invitation-only forums. Taken together, about a third of the conversations are dedicated to hacker training and education, which make them the main topic of the forum," noted the report's authors. (Source

Counterfeit Infant Car Seats endangering lives in the UK. Recent Government tests conducted on the counterfeit car seats indicate that they are not safe and do not meet current government guidelines. It is very difficult to recognize these counterfeits, because on initial inspection they can look very similar to the genuine items. While the seat appeared to have appropriate safety ratings, the instruction manual was in poorly written English, a clear marker that it is counterfeit. (Source

Last of 10 suspects pleads guilty to Counterfeit Cigarettes in the UK, Over $200 Million in tax fraud. This was no small scale operation, the gang had moved from importing counterfeit cigarettes, to set up a full scale cigarette manufacturing facility to make their own illegal cigarettes. The gang is now behind bars facing from 2 to 7 years in prison. (Source

US Supreme Court hears arguments against the use of Drug Dogs. Two dogs, a chocolate Labrador retriever named Franky and a German shepherd named Aldo, should have their day at the U.S. Supreme Court. The Supreme Court heard oral arguments on Wednesday in two Florida cases involving the use of drug dogs. Florida's appeal of two decisions by that state's highest court that found the detection of drugs by trained police dogs had violated the constitutional ban on unreasonable searches and seizures under the Fourth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. These arguments involve distinctly different issues: whether a dog can sniff outside a home without a warrant, and how qualified a dog must be to do a legitimate sniff. They give the Supreme Court a chance to extend, or limit, prior decisions giving police a long leash to use dogs, including for suitcases at airports and cars stopped at checkpoints. (Source

Staten Island reports five looting arrests, two at Rent-a Center. District Attorney Daniel Donovan's office said that the first arrests for post-Sandy looting on Staten Island have been made. Two men were arrested after allegedly breaking into a Rent-A-Center in West Brighton. Spencer said that the men had thrown a brick through the store window and were found hiding under furniture in the store by passing NYPD patrols. In another incident, three men were arrested outside a commercial establishment at 588 Richmond Rd. in Concord, the three were attempting to saw through a lock and pry open a gate guarding the store. (Source

Atlantic City reports more Sandy related burglaries. Atlantic City is reporting an increase in burglaries following Hurricane Sandy. On Monday, Oct. 29 at 11:20 p.m., two men were arrested in the parking lot of the Save-A-Lot grocery store in Renaissance Plaza. The following day, officers responded to calls about a group of people taking things from a store on Pacific Avenue. Also on Tuesday, police responded to Georgia and Fairmount Avenues for reports of a man on a bike breaking into vehicles. Atlantic City police also say there have been numerous calls about break-ins and burglaries during the timeframe of the mandatory evacuation due to Hurricane Sandy. Police have increased their patrols, and a curfew from 6 p.m. to 6 a.m. remains in effect. (Source

True Religion burglarized at Downtown Manhattan Beach, loss of $9000. Police believe up to five suspects may have pulled off the burglary at the True Religion Store in Manhattan Beach, California. Police were notified by a person who passed by the store seeing the front window smashed at 4:30 am. (Source

Victoria's Secret robbed of 180 bras at Stanford Shopping Center in Palo Alto.
The store was busy at the time of the theft and it was not immediately noticed. Police do not have any suspect description and aren't sure the number of thieves involved. Employees said last Friday the store was robbed of $7,000 worth of bras. (Source

Former terminated employee, two others arrested in Goodwill arson case in Charlotte, NC A former employee was blamed for setting the two-alarm fire that caused heavy damage to the store just weeks after the fire. According to a search warrant issued by the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department, store employees said Williams was fired from the business one day before the fire was set. The Loss Prevention supervisor told officers that Williams was extremely angry about it. (Source

Store Manager shot and killed during cell phone store robbery in Oakland. Wilbur Bartley has owned the cell phone store in Oakland since pagers were in style. A well respected business man with a big heart for his customers, many he knew by name. On Wednesday evening at 7:22 pm that all changed. Bartley was shot one time in the chest and died in his store. The shooter is still on the loose. (Source

Attempting to use a stolen credit card at a Big Lots in Tennessee lands a home invasion suspect in jail. Video surveillance cameras were a key part on the investigation of Terry Clabough who now faces charges of aggravated burglary and other charges stemming from a home invasion. Clabough was caught on surveillance attempting to use a stolen credit card he obtained on Saturday. He was arrested at a traffic stop. (Source

Store owner’s dog makes the first break in a case against three teens who committed 22 thefts in Wisconsin. The owner’s Shih Tzu dog began to bark and growl at a customer who came in to have a radio controlled car repaired. The owner realized the item was stolen from another store, Police apprehended the suspect. Once in Police custody, the investigation lead to two additional suspects connecting the three teens to 22 break-ins of businesses in the Eau Claire area. (Source

Stanislaus, California County Sheriff arrests six in Kohl’s burglary. Several Law Enforcement agencies worked together to bring in the six suspects who hit a Kohl’s store jewelry counter last weekend, getting away with over 50 watches and other jewelry. When Police arrested Randy Lee, he was wearing one of the stolen watches. A large bag of watches was recovered from a stolen vehicle the group had used in the incident. Other charges will be filed against several of the suspects including weapon and drug charges. (Source

Denver Radio Shack robbery suspects believed to be tied to three other cell phone robberies. The two suspects who held up a Radio Shack in Denver in September that ended with the Store Manager being released after a six hour standoff with Police, are now facing more charges. Denver Police believe the two suspects are responsible for three other cell phone robberies in the area. (Source

A Washington State woman blames cancer-related memory loss for shoplifting at Target. Placing loads of DVD’s and other items into a large storage container in her cart, the suspects makes her way around the store quickly, then heads for the front exit. Target Asset Protection makes the apprehension and Police are called. (Source

October Same Store Sales Results

The Rack up 10.5%
TJX up 7%
Stage Stores up 6.5%
Macy's up 4.1%
Kohl's up 3.3%
Rite Aid down 1.1%

Quarterly Same Store Sales Results

Ralph Lauren Q2 up 3% with revenue down 2%
Harris Teeter Supermarkets Q4 up 3% with total sales up 3.7%
Publix Super Markets Q3 up 2.5% with sales up 4.4%

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According to a report issued Wednesday by PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP and Retail Council of Canada, Canadian retailers lose about $4 billion a year in theft, accounting errors and damaged products. The report also found an increase in the percentage of employees involved in the activities in 2008, estimating that it grew to more than 33 percent of theft-related incidents. In 2008 it was only 19 percent. (Source

Williams-Sonoma will open its first store in Quebec, Canada, on Nov. 3 Located at Carrefour Laval in Laval, Quebec, the new store marks Williams-Sonoma’s eighth location in Canada, and will be the first to showcase a brand new store design. (Source

Canada's high-end retailer Holt Renfrew to launch new "hr2" retail concept next spring after 175 years in business The retail concept will offer Canadians new and unique designer product selection at great value, said the company. The merchandise assortment at hr2 will include unique product lines sourced especially for hr2 and not available elsewhere in Canada. A new hr2 division will buy distinct merchandise for these new stores. The first hr2 store will debut in Quebec at Quartier DIX30 in March 2013, with another location planned for Ontario in early 2013. "Canadians can look forward to a strong national presence of our hr2 stores across the country before the end of 2015," said Heather Arts. (Source

Mall owners upgrading properties to draw foreign retailers Mall owners are injecting billions of dollars into their properties ahead of Target and Nordstrom’s Canadian debut, hoping the investment will woo shoppers and attract coveted retailers, reports The Globe and Mail. (Source

RCMP talk addresses retail theft issues When a business is faced with a shoplifter it can be tricky for the owners to know who they can tell and what information they can share without breaking any privacy laws. For this reason the West Shore RCMP organized a series of workshops last week with RCMP Legal Services lawyer Kyle Friesen. RCMP members and business owners and managers took part in the workshops, which focused on explaining the rights of businesses when it comes to dealing with retail theft. (Source

Royal Canadian Mounted Police appoint officer with extensive knowledge of gemology to head its investigations of diamond-related crimes From his base in Alberta, Corporal Kelly Ross, who majored in geology and is a certified gemologist, will also hunt down criminals who use gold and precious gems as a cash medium. Ross says that the need for a federal enforcement officer dedicated solely to fighting diamond industry crimes arose when officers noticed a new trend among drug dealers: the tendency to use jewels in lieu of cash. (Source

New Canadian ePassports More Difficult to Counterfeit Canada’s new ePassports will include iconic images to make them more attractive and secure. Besides making the passports more attractive, the images are also meant to bolster security, as the complexity of the images makes the passports more difficult to counterfeit. There are currently close to 100 countries around the world issuing ePassports. The government says Canada fell behind in developing the ePassport due to America’s Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative coming to effect in 2007, which required all Canadians to carry a passport to enter the U.S. (Source

FLIR Systems has agreed to acquire Lorex Technology Inc., a Markham, Ontario, Canada-based provider of consumer and professional-grade video surveillance systems The company sells its solutions through retailers such as Costco, BJ’s Wholesale,,, as well as through distributors of large-scale security solutions. Lorex provides homes and businesses bundled video surveillance systems and equipment, including connected visible light video cameras, illuminated infrared cameras, DVRs, video monitors, baby monitors, and wearable action sports cameras. (Source

Think Logistics Launches Canada's First Robotic Fulfillment Based 3PL Think Logistics, a provider of tailored retail, direct to customer and commercial supply chain solutions for organizations serving the Canadian market, is revolutionizing supply chain logistics with the opening of Canada's first Kiva Systems powered third-party logistics' facility. (Source

A suspected shoplifter in a motorized wheelchair violently taken into custody in Vancouver. The apprehension is under investigation by the owner of Genesis Security, the firm contracted to patrol the Vancouver’s Pacific Centre Mall. No criminal charges were filed against the Loss Prevention Agents seen pulling a man with only one leg out of his wheelchair and handcuffed on the ground. The man was suspected of stealing over $1000 of sunglasses which were recovered. (Source

Vancouver ORC couple who were busted by Safeway ORC team also selling counterfeit air bags
Yveginey and Lyudmila Smirnov were arrested by police in late May after allegedly buying $750 worth of purportedly stolen items from an undercover investigator working for Safeway's Organized Retail Crime Department in the Hazel Dell Walmart parking lot. Deputies also recovered "hundreds" of air bags from their home while serving the search warrant. After the arrest, sheriff's deputies searched the Smirnov's home and found "numerous amounts of different merchandise" including Crest White Strips, Rogaine and air fresheners, court documents say. (Source

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"There is a number of rings out there working, stealing alcohol," said King County sheriff's office spokesperson Cindi West. "It's a quick way to make a buck and easy to get rid of". In the past several months, Seattle police have noticed a growing trend of brazen liquor thefts. The shoplifting has become so rampant that some say it's practically an epidemic since privatizing liquor sales in the state. King County sheriff's detectives have been clobbered with liquor theft investigations since June, when the state's new law privatizing liquor sales took effect. Every major retailer selling spirits is being targeted. Representatives from Safeway, Albertsons, Fred Meyer and QFC all declined to be interviewed, but admitted that booze-theft prevention is a priority. Many stores have started to lock up the high-end liquor, and most have added removable safety caps. "In speaking with loss prevention officers, they told me that violence has actually increased," she said. "The people who steal liquor versus those who steal diapers or sandwiches are much more confrontational and getting violent with them." On Thursday, the Northwest Grocery Association, which represents 400 grocers statewide, said the bulk of the thefts are due to organized retail crime rings. (Source

Local shoplifting could be part of ring in Boone, NC Four arrests were made in Blowing Rock Tuesday evening in connection with a shoplifting ring operating in the area. Operating at Tanger Outlet Shoppes a number of incidents have occurred. Blowing Rock officers also recovered merchandise from other stores outside of the Blowing Rock area. It is believed that the group has been operating an organized shoplifting ring in North Carolina. The investigation is continuing. All four suspects were held at the Watauga County Jail on secured bonds.

Suspects arrested for felony burglary at Home Depot in Downers Grove, IL. The man and woman who had been identified by Home Depot as being involved in numerous thefts over a two-year period were charged with felony burglary at the store Oct. 24. Police charged Romas P. Dargis, 59, and Lucia M. Zupo, 50, both of Channahon, with felony burglary. Downers Grove Police were called to the Home Depot Store in regards to suspicious activity. A search warrant executed by Downers Grove investigators linked the two suspects to additional stolen merchandise and sales of that merchandise on an online auction site. The suspects are believed to have stolen $150,000 in merchandise over a two-year period. (Source

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Lisa Kane was named Regional Asset Protection Director mid-west for Sears Holdings Corp.
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Go Ahead and Make Mistakes -- But Not Really As leaders, we say we want our people to be empowered and to go out and make decisions. We say we're okay with them making mistakes and we'll still support them making decisions on their own. But not really. Ask yourself this question: Would you rather have a team member make decisions and make mistakes or make no decisions and leave that up to you? (Are you the 96%?)

Making No Decision is Still Making a Decision Enough with all the thinking already! Now you need to drive action. Ideas are great but someone has to put them in motion for them to be worthwhile, and deciding to do that is no easy task. Acting on a decision can be terrifying, especially in the case of large-scale change. Your decision may affect a significant number of people, and what if it is the wrong decision? (A thought leader)
10 Tough Questions Every Self-Aware Leader Needs to Answer -- Part 1 There's an old maxim about not answering a question with a question, so we're not going to do that. We're going to answer a question with TEN questions! And the question is: How can you become a more "self-aware" leader? As one of the keys to being an effective leader is self-awareness, here are 10 powerful, thought-provoking, and challenging questions to think about (More reflective)

10 Tough Questions Every Self-Aware Leader Needs to Answer -- Part 2 The article above covers five of the 10 tough questions every self-aware leader needs to answer. In this article, the last five questions are covered. If you truly want to be a more reflective -- and effective -- leader, you need to be ready and willing to answer all 10 of these powerful, thought-provoking and challenging questions. (More effective)

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No matter how smart a person is or how good a product or service is, your success always boils down to your attitude – your demeanor – how well you connect with those you're working with. Making that connection – working on that relationship – and approaching your internal and external customers as just that – customers – is critical if you expect to be successful. Remembering one key point all the time may help – they don't have to buy anything you're saying or selling regardless if you're a vendor or an LP executive. Because at the end of the day, there's always someone else close by that can offer the same thing you're offering.

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