Entries in Theft (29)


Woman Impersonates Nurse to Steal Drugs from Seattle Hospital

ABC News/KOMO(SEATTLE) -- Dressed in slacks, a blue blouse and fluent in medical terminology, an unidentified woman walked into the rooms of two patients at the Swedish Medical Center, posing as a nurse. She then cut the tubes connecting them to their pain medications, according to the Seattle Police Department.

The nurse impostor, who police say walked confidently into the patients' rooms without arousing suspicion, is still at large.

On April 13, police said, the suspect entered a patient's room as he slept and tampered with his patient-administered pain medication machine. When the man awoke and asked the suspect what she was doing, she told him she would get his nurse, the police report said.

"When his nurse did come in, she found that the line from the machine to the witness had been cut and that the pain medication was dripping on the floor," the police report said.

Shortly after the first incident, police said a second report came in that the suspect was seen peeking into rooms on another floor and had entered the room of a second patient, whose family was visiting.
When an alarm sounded at the hospital, police said the suspect fled. A family member from the second patient's room reported there was blood on the floor and that the line to her mother's pain medication had been cut, police said.

The phony nurse walked out of the hospital undetected with two feet of tubing in tow, security told police. A nurse advised police that a negligible amount of pain mediation would have been inside the tuning, police said.

Swedish Medical Center notified police four days after the breach, said Det. Mark Jamieson.
He said it was unclear why the hospital waited to notify authorities.

"It's possible there is surveillance video. Our detectives are working with the hospital," he said.

Ed Boyle, spokesman for the hospital, said an internal investigation has been launched into the incident.

"Swedish is and has been working closely with Seattle Police over the course of the last week in hopes of identifying the suspect and preventing any further incidents at Swedish or any other area hospitals," he said in a statement. "Although a delay in reporting the incident to Seattle Police occurred, Swedish security staff continued to investigate the incident."

The suspect is described as a white female in her mid-30s to early 40s with blonde hair that is either shoulder length or pulled back into a pony tail.

Anyone with information is asked to contact the Seattle Police Department.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


New York Police Set Up Team to Track Stolen iPhones, iPads

Hemera/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Apple has become one of the most popular gadget brands in the world — not only in sales, but in theft. With iPhones, iPads and iPods stolen so often, New York City police have teamed up with Apple Inc. to combat these crimes directly, the New York Post reports.

The NYPD has designated a special “team of cops” to pursue the theft of mobile Apple devices like iPhones and iPads. With the use of a device’s International Mobile Station Equipment Identity (IMSEI), it’s possible for Apple to track the whereabouts of a device and then share that information with the police.

“We’re looking for ways to find individuals who have stolen Apple products and return the products to their original owners,” NYPD spokesman Paul Browne told the Post. “It is being done to learn the pattern [of]  who is stealing.”

When reached by ABC News, Apple declined to comment on its involvement with the NYPD. The NYPD did not return ABC News’ request for comment.

In one case a stolen iPad was tracked all the way to the Dominican Republic and recovered with the help of an NYPD intelligence cop assigned to Santo Domingo, according to the Post.

The NYPD began Operation ID last September as an effort to encourage the public to register the serial numbers of their devices free of charge, ABC station WABC-TV reported.

“The theft of Apple phones and other hand-held devices drove the spike in robberies and larceny [in 2012]…Operation ID will help those whose property is lost or stolen to get it back,” Police Commissioner Raymond W. Kelly told WABC. According to the NYPD, more criminals are targeting Apple products, and while overall crime is up four percent in New York City, Apple product crime is up 40 percent.

Because of the rising rate of theft, there is even risk involved in buying one of these devices second-hand. Police say they can and will confiscate any stolen and resold devices and return them to their rightful owners. With Apple’s tracking system, it’s even possible to find a device after it’s been reregistered with a different wireless provider.

As reported by ABC News earlier this year, one creative New York man was able to reclaim his device without the help of the police or Apple.  Nadav Nirenberg left his iPhone in a New York City cab and noticed the person who had assumed possession of the device was posting on his online dating profile. Nirenberg created a fake profile to set up a “date” with the person using his phone.  The confrontation was not violent. Nirenberg got his phone back.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Rising Tide Thefts Leave Colorado Retailers Airing Dirty Laundry

Joe Raedle/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Retailers in Colorado are cracking down on Tide laundry detergent thefts by locking up the product and hiring undercover security guards to patrol their aisles.

The Colorado Retail Council hopes that such measures will help protect retailers from people who are shoplifting laundry detergent at an alarming rate.

“It’s a very large problem that we have to spend a lot on and, unfortunately, that cost gets passed on to the costumer,” Chris Howes, president of the Colorado Retail Council, said.

Police in Colorado are searching for a man they believe has stolen more than $8,000 worth of Tide laundry detergent in the Ft. Lupton area in Weld County.  Police said the male suspect has been caught on surveillance video knocking off six different stores, taking Tide and expensive face lotions.

Tide is one of the most recognized laundry detergents with its bright-orange container.  With a retail price from $10 to $20, Tide has become liquid gold on the streets.  It can sell on the black market for half the price and it’s impossible to track.

“Tide is highly recognizable, it’s very difficult to trace and it’s easily resold,” said Brad Garrett, ABC News consultant and former FBI special agent.

In March, cameras caught a man stealing more than $6,000 worth of the product during the course of 15 months near Minneapolis.

“Tide is a staple item,” Lt. Brad Pyle of Prince George’s County, Md.,  police told ABC News in March.  “Everybody uses it day in, day out.  And it’s the most popular brand, so they can move it and get a lot of money for it.”

The National Retail Foundation found last year that 95 percent of companies were victimized by organized retail crime.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Another TSA Agent Accused of iPad Theft

Port Authority Police Department(NEW YORK) -- A TSA agent was arrested this week and charged with stealing from passengers traveling through New York's John F. Kennedy Airport, adding to the long list of TSA officers accused of theft of passenger belongings.

TSA baggage screener Sean Henry, 32, was arrested after a sting operation conducted jointly by the TSA and the Port Authority Police Department caught Henry leaving the airport with two iPads that had been planted as part of the sting, as well as numerous other electronic devices he had allegedly stolen from passengers. Just as in a recent ABC News investigation of thefts by TSA agents, the sting used the iPads' own tracking capabilities to follow the stolen tablets' movements.

Transportation Security Administration spokesman David Castelveter told ABC News that the TSA has "taken the steps to begin processing [Henry] for termination."

"TSA holds its employees to the highest ethical standards and has zero tolerance for misconduct in the workplace," said Castelveter in a statement.

In September, an ABC News investigation revealed that 381 TSA officers had been fired for theft between 2003 and 2012, including 11 up to that point this year.

As part of the investigation, ABC News purposefully left behind an iPad at an airport security checkpoint in Orlando, Fla., and, using the iPad's GPS tracking app, recovered it at the home of a TSA agent who was later fired for the alleged theft.

The ABC News investigation prompted Senator Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., to urge the TSA to conduct random sting operations on its employees "to test whether TSA agents are acting in a trustworthy manner to protect passenger property."

Port Authority spokesman Steve Coleman told ABC News that authorities have recently stepped up their sting investigations, in part in response to these reports, and in part because they've received more claims from passengers about lost and possibly stolen items.

"These sting operations have been growing out there to try to curb this level of luggage theft, especially as the Christmas holidays are approaching," Coleman said.

In the sting that resulted in Henry's arrest, officers used GPS technology in the planted iPads to follow the tablets as they left JFK on the airport's AirTrain system. Officers allegedly found Henry on the train with the devices, according to Coleman.

After arresting Henry, Coleman said, investigators found more devices in his backpack that they have identified as stolen property, including a MacBook Pro and a pair of new Beats by Dr. Dre Headphones still in the box. They also found another set of Beats Headphones, an Apple iPad Mini, an Apple iPod and an iPhone, which were taken for further investigation.

A subsequent search of his house also turned up a black Apple Macbook that was identified as stolen property, Coleman said.

Henry was charged with grand larceny and possession of stolen property. He was released on his own recognizance on Wednesday night and is due back in court in January. He has not yet entered a plea. According to Coleman, police are attempting to locate owners of the items they found, and more charges will be added when owners are located.

Coleman called the use of GPS tracking in its sting operations a "relatively new" tactic. The TSA declined to talk specifically about covert operations but did say that the agency has been conducting tests and cooperating with the Port Authority Police after the latest arrest.

Figures provided to ABC News by the TSA in October in response to a Freedom of Information Act request showed that JFK Airport ranked second in the nation in the number of TSA agents fired for theft, with a total of 27 fired from 2002 through December 2011.

"There's been an ongoing problem with luggage theft out of the airport, especially terminal 4, which is the international building," Coleman said.

The TSA disputes that theft is a widespread problem, saying the number of officers fired "represents less than one-half of one percent of officers that have been employed" by TSA.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


WATCH: Grinch Videotaped Stealing Christmas Decorations

Tim Boyle/Getty Images(SAN ANTONIO) -- A Texas man was caught by surveillance cameras stealing the holiday decorations from a front lawn in San Antonio this weekend.

In footage obtained by ABC affiliate KSAT, the man can be seen driving past the house in a white vehicle early on Sunday morning, then brazenly walking up to the house and making off with an inflatable sled and snowman.


The culprit then creeps back and snatches an inflatable train set and Santa Claus from the lawn. But that wasn’t all.

“He ran across the street to the other neighbor’s house, taking their inflatable sled, and ran back to his car,” a woman, who only identified herself as Diana, told KSAT. “Her snowman was also missing and they just put theirs out a couple nights ago.”

Diana said that she reported the theft to police, but she is not going to allow the local Grinch to ruin her Christmas. She says she reported the incident to help protect her neighbors.

“This can’t be left like that,” she said. “Other people need to be aware that this guy is out there.”


Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Ancient Petroglyphs Stolen Along California Cliffs; Local Native Americans Stunned

File photo. Tom Brakefield/Thinkstock(BISHOP, Calif.) -- Petroglyphs, rock engravings left by ancient Native American people, stood along the California cliffs for up to 5,000 years. Yet it only took a concrete saw and pliers for thieves to steal the ancient rock writings last month, leaving the surrounding community stunned.

“When we went out there and looked at it, it hit my heart more than it did anything else,” said Raymond Andrews, the historic preservation officer of the Bishop Paiute tribe. “These are old and it’s part of our culture.”

The thieves did damage to six different petroglyphs, removing five and damaging one that was left behind. The carvings stood along cliffs of the Eastern Sierra Volcanic Tableland near the California-Nevada border, approximately 15 miles north of Bishop, Calif. They are what the local community calls “rock writings,” also referred to as rock art.

“They’re old writings that our local people here still go out to periodically to visit, either just to be around them or pray to them,” said Andrews.


Archaeologists describe the carving as an “engraving with color contrast,” created by removing the exterior coating of the rock that exposes lighter-colored stone underneath.

For archaeologists and members of the tribe, the carvings are much more than just physical representation of the past.

“It’s a very important spiritual and ceremonial artifact in history,” said Greg Haverstock, an archaeologist with Bishop field office of the Bureau of Land Management (BLM).   “It has a very religious value and it’s irreplaceable.”

Haverstock said if the thieves try to sell the artifacts, each piece could run anywhere from $500 to $1,500. He said that even if the carvings were recovered, it would be nearly impossible to restore them.

“It’s more than the actual motifs they stole, but also in the process of stealing them they scarred and damaged the surrounding petroglyphs.” said Haverstock. “There’s no way that you could properly restore it.”

As a result, authorities have ramped up security in the region and the BLM is now offering a $1,000 reward for information leading to arrests. Under the Archaeological Resource Protection Act, those convicted with theft and vandalism could face a $20,000 fine and five years imprisonment.

“It’s not only Native American history but it’s everybody’s history,” said Andrews. “Now nobody’s grandchildren are going to be able to enjoy those because now they’re gone. Hopefully they’ll come back.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Alleged Gas Thief Catches Fire, Crashes Truck

Mitch Drum/ABC News(MESA, Ariz.) -- A man has been hospitalized in Mesa, Ariz., after he caught fire and the truck he was driving crashed into a home as he fled from allegedly siphoning gas from someone’s car, police said.

Surveillance footage taken by Mitch Drum apparently shows Herbert C. Ridge, 38, rolling on the ground trying to extinguish flames that had engulfed his shirt. Seconds earlier, the video appears to show Ridge leaping from the driver’s seat of the truck as it crashes into Drum’s neighbor’s home.

“I heard a boom outside my house, so I ran out and saw the truck on fire with the guy running away,” Drum, 26, told ABC News. "I ran off after him but I didn’t want to go physical, because who knows what he might be on.”


Drum said Ridge told him that his Ford F150 had caught fire while he was driving it.

“He had a broken arm, you could see it bulging and a lot of smoke residue. I could see the smoke on him, gashes, arms broken, he was just mangled up,” Drum said.

While Drum called 911, the man ran off toward another neighbor’s house.

“He had this manufactured siphoning system that he made himself, with a pump hooked up to it, to a battery,” he said. “Something must have sparked.”

“We were able to figure out what happened while they were working the call,” Sgt. Tony Landato told ABC News. “Within an hour of the call coming out, we had him identified.”

Police said that the home that was struck was unoccupied when it was hit with the allegedly stolen truck. Ridge is still in the hospital and is expected to survive his injuries.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


The Top 20 US Airports for TSA Theft

Digital Vision/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Your suitcase has been tagged and whisked away for a security check before being loaded onto a plane en route to your final destination.  How safe are the belongings inside?

The Transportation Security Administration has fired nearly 400 employees for allegedly stealing from travelers, and for the first time, the agency is revealing the airports where those fired employees worked.

Newly released figures provided to ABC News by the TSA in response to a Freedom of Information Act request show that -- unsurprisingly -- many of the country's busiest airports also rank at the top for TSA employees fired for theft.

Sixteen of the top 20 airports for theft firings are also in the top 20 airports in terms of passengers passing through.

At the head of the list is Miami International Airport, which ranks 12th in passengers but first in TSA theft firings, with 29 employees terminated for theft from 2002 through December 2011.  John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York is second with 27 firings, and Los Angeles International Airport is third with 24 firings.  JFK ranks sixth in passenger traffic, while LAX is third.  Chicago, while second in traffic, ranked 20th in theft firings.

The four airports listed in the TSA's top 20 list of employee firings for theft that aren't also among the Federal Aviation Administration's top 20 for passenger activity are Salt Lake City International, Washington Dulles, Louis Armstrong New Orleans International, and San Diego International.

The top airports across the U.S. for TSA employees fired for theft are:

1. Miami International Airport (29)
2. JFK International Airport (27)
3. Los Angeles International Airport (24)
4. Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport (17)
5. Las Vegas-McCarren International Airport (15)
6. Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport and New York-Laguardia Airport (14 each)
8. Newark Liberty, Philadelphia International, and Seattle-Tacoma International airports (12 each)
11. Orlando International Airport (11)
12. Houston-George Bush Intercontinental Airport and Salt Lake City International Airport (10 each)
14. Washington Dulles International Airport (9)
15. Detroit Metro Airport and Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport (7)
17. Boston-Logan International, Denver International and San Diego International airports (6)
20. Chicago O'Hare International Airport (5)

During a recent ABC News investigation, an iPad left behind at a security checkpoint at the Orlando airport was tracked as it moved 30 miles away to the home of the TSA officer last seen handling it.

Confronted two weeks later by ABC News, the TSA officer, Andy Ramirez, at first denied having the missing iPad, but ultimately turned it over after blaming his wife for taking it from the airport.  Ramirez was later fired by the TSA.

The iPad was one of 10 purposely left behind at TSA checkpoints at major airports with a history of theft by government screeners, as part of an ABC News investigation into the TSA's ongoing problem with theft of passenger belongings.  The other nine iPads were returned to ABC News after being left behind.

The agency disputes that theft is a widespread problem, however, saying the number of officers fired "represents less than one-half of one percent of officers that have been employed" by the TSA.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Thieves Cracking Security Codes to Get Into Cars

ABC(CHICAGO) -- Just after 1 o'clock one August night, a man calmly walked up to a locked car parked on a downtown Chicago street and within seconds -- without a key, without any force -- was sitting in the passenger's seat. If you witnessed it, you wouldn't think anything of it. It was just a man getting into his car.

Except it wasn't his car. It was someone else's, but the man had easily broken in and could now steal whatever he wanted. Thieves, it seems, have figured out a way to unlock cars equipped with security systems, all without so much as breaking a window or even jimmying a lock. While they are not actually stealing automobiles yet, they are able to steal belongings found inside locked cars.

That car in Chicago belongs to Michael Shin, who thought he was losing his mind when his sedan was robbed. Shin, after all, had locked the car, but now his belongings had been stolen with no sign of forced entry.

"I kept thinking, 'How did they gain access to my car if nothing was broken?'" he told ABC's Chicago station WLS-TV.

Fortunately for Shin, the answer was right there on his home security video, so he got to see how the robber had done it.

"He walks past my car, the dome light comes on and he kind of stops in his tracks and walks right into the car," Shin told WLS. "It's mind-boggling how smart they are to build some sort of a device or an app or something that allows them to steal easily."

It wasn't only Shin's car that was robbed -- his neighbors' were, too. Wireless signal experts think some car thieves have cracked security codes, so they are able to send the same unlock signal that an owner's key transmitter uses.

"It's quite possible that they already decrypted the code, they actually have the key of the car, so they can open it any time they want," Xang Xiu, a professor at the Illinois Institute of Technology, told WLS.

That is what Chicago police believe too.

"We believe that this code-grabbing technology was utilized and we are looking into it and investigating," the Chicago Police Department's Andrew Schoeff told WLS.

The technology that keyless entry systems use has become much more complicated since 2010 and now changes the codes on a regular basis, but for systems that were built before then, it's a different story. And that has left locksmiths like Bill Plasky feeling dumbfounded at how thieves are now exploiting outdated systems to open cars like Shin's.

"Honestly," said Plasky, "I've never seen anything like that."


Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Vigilante Bicyclist Sees Stolen Bike on Craigslist, Steals It Back

Ingram Publishing/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- A Washington, D.C., man took justice into his own hands this week, when he stole back his bicycle after seeing a photo of it posted on Craigslist.

Danny Lesh told ABC News affiliate WJLA that he recently lent his 14-year-old Cannondale bicycle to a friend, who locked it up with a cable bike lock that was easily cut through by an enterprising thief.

After the $600 bike was stolen, Lesh checked Craigslist and found a post advertising his bike on sale for $100. He immediately recognized the custom stickers and pedals.

“I was furious, I was furious, but I was also determined at that point. I knew that I was pretty close to getting it back,” Lesh told the station.

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Lesh arranged to go see the bike in person, intending to buy it back, but realized that he had a better idea.

“I said, ‘Well, can I take it for a test ride?’ This guy agreed to let me take it for a test ride,” he explained.

Lesh took his own bicycle for a test ride, and never came back. The thief, with whom Lesh had arranged the meeting by cellphone, began calling Lesh and threatening to call the police.

“I stole it. I stole my bike back from the thief,” he said.

Lesh joins a handful of clever victims who have realized that their stolen goods may show up on the popular website, including Colorado resident Kathryn Lucas, who found her stolen bike on Craigslist and practiced the same vigilante justice last year.

In Portland, Ore., an entire task force in the police department has been created to retrieve stolen goods from Craigslist.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

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