District Attorney's Office Ripped Off: Stop Theft Class For This Scammer?

by Mike Miller October 19, 2014

It is not every day that the district attorney's office gets ripped off. In Louisiana, the DeSoto District Attorney's office has discovered thousands of dollars were stolen from coffers. Just how much?

The theft discovered earlier this year led to the arrest in February of longtime employee Melanie Barber. She is charged with monetary instrument abuse, malfeasance in office and filing or maintaining false public records. As reported in www.shreveporttimes.com.

The 32-year-old was arrested following a month-long investigation into misappropriated funds from accounts related to worthless check collections and pre-trial diversion fees.

Barber devised a scheme where she would accept money orders for payments of fees and penalties then sign and cash them at a local business.

It turns out that there was more than $100,000 in public funds missing with the theft occurring between 2009 and 2014, with about $35,000 stolen in 2013 alone.

The sad aspect is that this type of theft occurs all across the nation every single day. Do you think mandatory stop theft classes for all kids in public schools would help prevent many thieves from every stealing in the first place? Is more religious training in order to help people maintain a moral compass?

I respect and appreciate your input here at the stoptheftclass.com blog.

Could Theft Prevention Class Have Kept Rosa Parks' Apartment Safe?

by Mike Miller October 14, 2014

It is not uncommon to read about the theft of historical artifacts. Can you think of any? As the educational director at an online stop theft class here is a story that piqued my interest.

Thieves have struck the apartment complex where Rosa Parks lived when she made history by refusing to give up her seat to a white person on a city bus in Montgomery, Alabama, police said Tuesday. As reported in abcnews.go.com.

Detectives are seeking suspects who ripped and stole copper wiring from Parks' former apartment and several other now-vacant units being renovated, Montgomery police Sgt. Denise Barnes said. Workers discovered the thefts Monday. Police believe the crimes happened between 4 p.m. Friday and Monday, Barnes said.

"Vandals came in and pilfered it. They went in and tore out the walls and they stole the copper pipes and pretty much destroyed the apartment," said Evette Hester, executive director of the Montgomery Housing Authority, which has been working to refurbish the complex and enhance its historic aspects.

Hester knows of seven buildings entered by the thieves, but officials Tuesday were still assessing the specific damage done.

Parks' former apartment at 634 Cleveland Court is listed as her address in the 1955 police report following her arrest on the bus.

Her refusal to give up her seat in defiance of a Montgomery law sparked a yearlong bus boycott and became an enduring symbol of the U.S. Civil Rights movement.

Parks lived in the apartment on Cleveland Court -- now known as Parks Place in her honor -- from 1951 to 1957, Hester said. She later moved to Detroit, where she died in 2005.

Parks' former apartment is an important aspect of her life, partly because it was a public housing project -- a fact that is sometimes "airbrushed" or glossed over in accounts of her life, said Georgette Norman, director of the Rosa Parks Library and Museum in Montgomery.

Norman said it's important for young people, in particular, to know that people of Parks' stature lived in public housing.

"They can say 'Oh my God... Rosa Parks lived in a housing project and we now revere her," Norman said.

The apartment where Parks lived had been furnished with period pieces to reflect what it was like during the time she was there, said Hester, who described it as a type of small museum.

Pieces such as a sewing machine and furniture were spared, but the vandals did heavy damage to the walls, the floor and the bathroom, Hester said.

Housing officials had been studying the idea of improving the way visitors can see Parks' former apartment and expanding the exhibits to other apartments nearby when the crimes happened. It wasn't yet clear Tuesday how the damage will affect those plans, Hester said.

"We certainly have to push the pause button," she said. "And so we don't know at this moment how it will affect the schedule for completing this project."

Does Wage Theft Create Demand for Online Shoplifting Class?

by Mike Miller October 9, 2014

Nobody likes to be stolen from. It is equally offensive not to be compensated for the labor you were hired for and contracted to receive. Employees across the country are suffering from wage theft, and so far they have little recourse to get recompensated.

Having employees complain to a governing body is not effective because workers fear retaliation, including losing their jobs, especially for immigrant workers. More than 40% of laborers who complained to their employers said they were fired or suspended, threatened with a cut in hours or pay, or faced other forms of retribution. One in five said they had not complained about these violations - out of fear. As reported in www.seattleweekly.com.

Employers particularly exploit immigrants more because they know they don’t have a valid Social Security number, and how they don’t have many options to go somewhere else. They take advantage of this and exploit it.

In Seattle, Washington, only 11 people have reported wage theft to the police since last summer. Seattle passed a wage theft ordinance , making it easier for employees to expose cases of wage theft. Yet police, in the two years the ordinance has been in effect, cannot say how many actually reports have been filed.

I am not sure what the answer is to combat wage theft. I would love to hear some of your thoughts on the subject.

Employers Practing Wage Theft, Need 24 Hour Anti-Theft Class

by Mike Miller September 22, 2014

The world can be a very unfair place. When jobs are scarce employers sometimes take advantage of employees, often in the form of wage theft.

In the previous blog entry we looked at three industries where wage theft is rampant: the garment industry, the restaurant business and employment involving immigrant labor. As reported in www.seattleweekly.com.

Although numerous studies show that wage theft is common among low-wage workers in general, immigrants seem to suffer higher rates of violations. It has been estimated that foreign-born workers, suffered more than twice the rate of minimum-wage violations as their U.S.-born counterparts.

Immigrant's who work 55 or 60 hours a week are getting $1,000 twice a month - which works out to be at or below minimum wage, and no overtime.

I have read that some employers and companies actually write their business model to steal from workers. They make money knowing that many workers will not do anything, and just move on to the next job.

Laws to Prevent Wage Theft

But Labor & Industries learns of a violation only if a worker complains. Prior to the Wage Payment Act of 2006, remedying wage violations required taking employers to court. The new law was designed to help more workers more quickly by handling most wage complaints through an administrative process. In general, say advocates, this has been an improvement for workers.

The downside is that the department is so burdened with complaints that it has virtually ceased conducting targeted investigations of companies and industries.

Once again, legislation meant to help the cause may actually be providing no help at all. I am not sure a stop theft class is warranted for these employers, but we might be able to develop a different model of stop theft class that can keep employers morally responsible. What do you think?

16 Hour Theft Education Class Helpful to Address Wage Theft

by Mike Miller September 17, 2014

This is the third in a series of blogs here at stoptheftclass.com looking at the issue of wage theft. Recent figures show that as many as 50% of employees have felt victimized by wage theft at some point in their working career.

There are some industries where wage theft is most common, specifically where wage and hour violations seem to be the norm. Can you guess which industries lead the pack? if you guessed the restaurant and garment industries you would be correct. The U.S. Department of Labor found violations in 71 percent of the West Coast restaurants it investigated in the six years prior to 2012. A five-year investigation of California garment manufacturers found violations in 93 percent of them. Violations are also common in construction, agriculture, child care, and janitorial work, according to studies and attorneys who represent workers. As reported in www.seattleweekly.com.

How common do you think it is to take advantage of immigrant workers? One expert argued that you will not find a single employer paying overtime to their immigrant piece-rate workers. So there’s an example of a large segment of the economy where a blatant violation of the law is the norm. It’s just outrageous. Who is looking out for their interests?

Have you ever been the victim of wage theft? if so, please chime in as we will continue to look at this topic in subsequent blog entries.

Although numerous studies show that wage theft is common among low-wage workers in general, immigrants seem to suffer higher rates of violations. A 2010 study by researchers at the University of California Los Angeles found that foreign-born workers in that city suffered more than twice the rate of minimum-wage violations as their U.S.-born counterparts.

“The violations, they’re extraordinary among the immigrant workforce,” says Mark, who has represented thousands of immigrant employees in multimillion-dollar class-action lawsuits, including a recent Washington Supreme Court case against Fred Meyer for misclassifying janitorial workers.

“The classic is an immigrant worker who’s working 55 or 60 hours a week and getting $1,000 twice a month, that kind of thing, which works out to at or below minimum wage, and no overtime,” Mark says.

Not everyone believes that wage theft is widespread, however. One doubter is Bob Battles, general counsel and director of government affairs for the Association of Washington Business. “I don’t see this as an out-of-control, pervasive problem,” Battles says. “This is a few bad actors that are spoiling the bunch if we’re not careful, but go after those folks individually. This is not what we think is a prevalent problem.”

The Washington Department of Labor & Industries, which is responsible for investigating complaints of wage and hour violations, offers a similar assessment. The department receives between 3,000 and 4,000 complaints each year for the more than three million people employed in the state, the agency points out. Elizabeth Smith, assistant director of fraud prevention and labor standards, says most employers are trying to follow the law: “There’s a small subset that know the law and are not following it intentionally.”

That’s what Casa Latina has found, too, says Cariño Barragán Talancón, the organizer who usually fields calls about wage theft. “We’ve realized that some employers and companies, it’s actually their business model to steal from workers,” Barragán Talancón says. “They make money knowing that many workers will just not do anything, and just move on to the next job.”

But Labor & Industries learns of a violation only if a worker complains. Prior to the Wage Payment Act of 2006, remedying wage violations required taking employers to court. The new law was designed to help more workers more quickly by handling most wage complaints through an administrative process. In general, say advocates, this has been an improvement for workers. The downside is that the department is so burdened with complaints that it has virtually ceased conducting targeted investigations of companies and industries.

Advocates argue that relying entirely on complaints is not effective because workers fear retaliation, including losing their jobs or being reported to immigration authorities. And the people who complain are the people who can best afford to have suffered a violation, says the National Employment Law Project’s Rebecca Smith: “They are not the people who are the most vulnerable, and who are being abused the most.”

The organization’s three-city worker survey suggests fear of retaliation is justified. More than 40 percent of workers who complained to their employer said they were fired or suspended, threatened with a cut in hours or pay, or faced other forms of retribution. One in five said they had not complained to their employer about a violation, in large part out of fear.

Casa Latina’s Barragán Talancón says a growing number of workers who call for help with wage violations ask her whether the boss can call in immigration authorities. When she admits she doesn’t know, she doesn’t hear from them again. In her seven years with the organization, she has never encountered a wage-theft case in which the worker was still working for the employer. “That is very telling to me,” she says.

InvestigateWest found one worker who prevailed—because, again, he went outside the systems set up in recent years by the state and the city. He hired an attorney.

Let’s call him Miguel, although we agreed to withhold his real name because—as is typical—the wage-theft settlement his attorney arranged came with a legally binding promise not to discuss the case publicly.

Miguel kept his job at a King County teriyaki restaurant for more than a year, even though he says he worked 11 hours a day six days a week and took home at most $1,000 twice a month. That works out to close to the federal minimum wage of $7.25 an hour, well below the current state minimum wage of $9.32 hourly, with no overtime.

“Employers particularly exploit immigrants more,” Miguel says through a translator. “They know they don’t have a valid Social Security number, and how they don’t have many options to go somewhere else. They take advantage of this and exploit it.”

Eventually a lawyer won a settlement for Miguel of about $15,000 in back wages. In theory, the law allows workers to collect double the amount withheld, plus attorneys’ fees. But that requires going to court. Smaller cases like Miguel’s are usually settled before a court hearing.

In one way, Miguel was fortunate: His case was large enough to interest an attorney. Labor lawyers say few private attorneys in Washington take individual wage and hour cases, and they rarely accept cases worth less than $5,000.

Many wage claims don’t reach that threshold because people are paid a portion of their wages or quit after a short period, says Andrea Schmitt, an attorney with Columbia Legal Services, which focuses on large class-action lawsuits. InvestigateWest’s analysis of state data shows workers who’ve filed complaints with Labor & Industries are owed a median of just over $700. “Maybe that means they can’t pay the rent or buy food,” Schmitt says. “But it’s not big enough for most private lawyers to be able to pay attention to.”

Since 2011, Seattle workers have had another tool to seek justice. The city’s wage-theft ordinance made it a gross misdemeanor—a criminal offense—to intentionally withhold payment for agreed-upon services.

Maria Arciniega is one of a handful of workers who have filed a complaint in the past year.

Arciniega, 36, says she worked 46 hours as a cook at Domani Pizzeria and Restaurant in Queen Anne, but after she called in sick, the owner told her it wasn’t working out. Arciniega says she went to claim her wages, totaling $432. The owner, Martin Pumpalov, offered her $120. Pumpalov says he explained that her work spanned two pay periods, so she would have to wait until the next payday for the rest. In a negotiation hobbled by a language barrier, Arcienega turned him down. She says she’d kept track of her hours in her own little notebook, and insisted on the full amount. She says the owner demanded to see her working papers, which she took as a veiled threat. Pumpalov says he asked for her Social Security number.

Arciniega turned to Casa Latina. Barragán Talancón helped her file a claim with Labor & Industries and also arranged a meeting with Pumpalov. Both sides say the meeting quickly escalated into a shouting match, though both blame the other.

“They didn’t come to talk, they came and started threatening me,” Pumpalov says. When Arciniega and Barragán Talancón told him they had filed a claim with Labor & Industries, he told them he’d handle the claim through the agency. Speaking with InvestigateWest, he says he never disputed owing Arciniega more than $120.

After the argument in the restaurant, the women returned to Casa Latina’s office and immediately filed a report with the Seattle Police Department under the city’s wage-theft ordinance.

Only 11 people have reported wage theft to the police since last summer, according to Lieutenant Gregory Schmidt, the department’s burglary and theft commander. He was unable to say exactly how many wage-theft complaints the department received in the first two years after the ordinance was passed. In that period, Schmidt explained, cases could end up in any one of the city’s five burglary and theft squads, and were not tagged as wage theft. (The Seattle Police Department has yet to fulfill a request InvestigateWest filed June 17 under the Washington Public Records Act seeking documents recounting enforcement of the wage-theft law.)

Worker advocates say the police were not prepared to respond to wage-theft complaints after the ordinance passed in 2011, and initially even turned some callers away. Today, Schmidt says, the department gives wage-theft cases “special treatment.” He says he has instructed the sergeant in charge of these cases to investigate complaints even if the initial evidence is thin, and to make extra attempts to contact victims.

Still, the calls are hardly rolling in. And no employers have been prosecuted under the law.

Last year the police department forwarded to the city attorney the case of a painter who had not been paid for 7.5 hours of work. According to Schmidt, the city attorney declined to prosecute the case because detectives have not been able to speak with the employer or find a witness to corroborate the worker’s story. A second case was forwarded to King County prosecutors as a potential felony, but the police were not able to positively identify the suspect: Two people so closely matched the identifying information that the police could not identify the suspect to the prosecutor’s satisfaction, Schmidt says.

Gathering enough evidence to prove wage theft in court can be a challenge, as worker advocates acknowledge. City law spells out that a prosecutor has to prove an employer intended not to pay. That can be a tall order in the case of day laborers paid in cash, with no records kept.

“We’re frustrated as well, ” says Craig Sims, criminal division chief in the city attorney’s office. “We have this great ordinance in place, but we aren’t able to move forward because of the tough time we have finding cases.”

Sims says his office is finalizing an agreement with the U.S. Department of Labor to receive Seattle cases that the federal department has investigated but chose not to pursue. “There’s no perfect case out there,” Sims says, “but we’re definitely willing to look at every possibility.”

Maria Arciniega’s case with the Seattle Police didn’t make it very far, either. Her employer agreed to pay her wages through Labor & Industries, and Arciniega received a check a few weeks later. But, she says, the delay in payment meant she couldn’t pay her rent, and she and her 11-year-old daughter lost their apartment as a result. According to Schmidt, the police closed the case because it would have been difficult to prove the pizza-shop owner had intended not to pay her.

A second provision of Seattle’s wage-theft ordinance has had even less impact. The ordinance permits the city to revoke the business license of an employer with an unpaid-wage violation issued by a court or by Labor & Industries. But in Seattle, business licenses are used mostly to track businesses and collect taxes, not to regulate them. The city has little incentive to revoke them. It would only do so in “extreme circumstances” and after working with the business to bring it into compliance, according to the Department of Finance and Administrative Services, which issues city business licenses.

The department says in an e-mail that Labor & Industries has forwarded the names of 19 Seattle businesses with outstanding judgments. Fewer than half have current licenses, and the department has not taken any action against them.

Seattle City Council member Nick Licata, who has called for a city office of labor-standards enforcement, admitted that neither provision of the wage-theft ordinance has been effective. What’s needed, he says, is a coordinated, proactive approach to enforcing all the city’s labor-standards legislation, including the minimum-wage, wage-theft, and paid-sick-time ordinances.

“It’s not really effective nor fair to expect employees to risk losing their job to complain that their employers are not following the law,” Licata says. Rather than simply respond to individual complaints, he says, the city should audit entire businesses, particularly in industries where there may be a pattern of violations.

That’s what the state used to do. And it’s what the U.S. Department of Labor still does, to the extent its budget allows. Nationally, however, the odds that a business will be inspected in any given year is only one in 1,000, according to an analysis by economist David Weil, who just became the head of the department’s Wage and Hour division. Your typical pizza parlor or teriyaki joint has little to fear from the feds.

For many Washington workers hoping to recover a few thousand dollars or less in wages, often their best alternative is to file a complaint with the state Department of Labor & Industries. But justice here is usually neither swift nor certain.

Under the Wage Payment Act, the department is required to investigate every complaint it receives within 60 days. Last year it met that target in 60 percent of cases, according to InvestigateWest’s analysis of closed complaints from 2009 to March 2014 obtained from the state by Columbia Legal Services. Labor & Industries has a staff of only 16 investigators to pursue up to 4,000 cases per year.

Advocates credit the department with reducing backlogs and speeding investigations greatly since the early years of the law. On average, cases resolved in 2013 were open for 65 days—about half the time it took in 2009. But many cases can take much longer—for example, if either party appeals the decision. Last year nearly a quarter of investigations were open for 90 days or more.

For workers living paycheck to paycheck, a delay of weeks or months can be catastrophic. Never getting paid at all is worse.

Columbia Legal’s Schmitt has worked closely with Labor & Industries for years to improve its enforcement and tracking under the Wage Payment Act. Her biggest concern is that the department still lacks resources for adequate enforcement and collections. “And collection of wages is the big punch line at the end of all of this,” Schmitt says. “Even if you can get some kind of official judgment that you’re owed wages, do you get your money back or not? And the answer is, a lot of times not.”

InvestigateWest’s analysis of state data found that over the past five years, Labor & Industries recovered more than $11.6 million, about 56 percent of what it determined employers owed. (And even some of that, interest and penalties, went to the state, not workers.) That leaves nearly $9 million in outstanding debt to about 3,000 workers.

Some cases go more smoothly than others. Often employers pay the wages or set up a payment plan when the department contacts them, as in Maria Arciniega’s case. In those cases the average worker gets nearly 90 percent of what is owed.

But in about 16 percent of all cases it receives, Labor & Industries must issue a formal citation to the employer. If the employer still refuses to pay, the complaint is closed and sent to a separate collections department, which has the equivalent of fewer than two full-time employees overseeing a caseload that perpetually runs into the hundreds. Asked for its collections success rate, the department reported that over the past two years it has recovered about 40 percent of amounts owed in cases sent to collections. The department was unable to say how long it ultimately takes to get workers paid.

Worker advocates, as well as state and city agencies, are exploring ways to better make workers whole. At the state level, Labor & Industries is looking for a way to again launch systematic investigations targeting industries in which abuses are rampant.

In Seattle, councilmember Licata says he’ll propose funding an office of labor-standards enforcement in the next budget. “It’s absolutely critical that we have sufficient staff to do ongoing audits of businesses,” he says.

Licata says he expects that such an office, modeled after San Francisco’s, would contract with community organizations to educate both employers and employees, particularly immigrant and non-English-speaking groups. A labor-standards advisory committee, with representatives from business, labor, and city departments, is developing recommendations for enforcing the minimum-wage and wage-theft ordinances and other city labor laws. Business representatives on the committee declined to discuss their perspective until the group shares its recommendations with the mayor and City Council sometime around Labor Day.

Not everyone is convinced the city will be up to the task of enforcing the $15 minimum wage. Labor attorneys point out that the ordinance does not explicitly include the right for workers to sue employers in court. That places a huge burden on the city, says Mark, the labor attorney. “If it’s left just to agency enforcement, that’s a problem, because no agency ever has enough resources to enforce these laws,” he says. To address the dearth of attorneys willing to take individual or small-group cases, this fall he will launch the Washington Wage Claim Project, a nonprofit to represent low-wage workers and train more attorneys.

Strengthening state law is also a priority for labor advocates. In Washington, workers currently have little recourse if an employer retaliates against complaints about labor-law violations. In a recent example, a Seattle Police investigation into labor violations by contractor Dathan Williams uncovered a pattern of threatening workers and reporting them to immigration authorities, according to King County Superior Court charging documents. In fact, two witnesses in the case were deported, charging documents state.

The National Employment Law Project says it and other organizations will push to reintroduce an anti-retaliation bill as part of a package of wage-theft legislation that passed the state House last session. In Seattle, the minimum-wage legislation already spells out retaliation as a violation of the ordinance, though advocates say the penalties need to be stronger.

Jaime Alvarez Garcia still hopes that he’ll be able to get justice. This summer he came to a meeting of Casa Latina’s Workers Defense Committee, where workers share their stories and get help from staff, volunteers, and other workers in the same situation.

Wearing jeans and construction boots, Alvarez Garcia, 50, explained calmly in Spanish that he and his son had worked on several bathroom remodels for a local contractor. He didn’t have anything in writing, just a verbal agreement about how much he would be paid for each task. At first he was paid, but after the last job, he says, the contractor kept putting off paying him the final $1,800. His son sent dozens of text messages, at first imploring, “I need the money, I’ve been waiting a long time.” Later they threatened to take legal action. He says the contractor stopped responding.

Casa Latina’s Barragán Talancón drew a house on the whiteboard and explained how placing a lien on the building might help Alvarez Garcia get paid. In this way, he is fortunate. Only construction and agricultural workers can generally take advantage of liens in Washington. The state lacks a general lien law that applies to all workers—something that advocates say they want to fix.

Alvarez Garcia says it’s sad that these things happen to honest workers, but he has hope. “I know that there are laws and rights for workers in these cases,” he says through a translator. “Even if some of us don’t have papers, it’s not a system that’s all stacked up against us.”

Let’s see if he gets his dough.

Would Online Anti-Theft Course Correct Wage Stealers?

by Mike Miller September 12, 2014

This is the second in a series of blogs here at stoptheftclass.com looking at the issue of wage theft. Wage theft is the illegal withholding of wages or the denial of benefits that are rightfully owed to an employee.

We are addressing the potentially rampant issue of wage theft through the microcosm of Washington state. This will be an especially important issue as the minimum wage in Seattle rises to $15 per hour. Passing a $15-an-hour minimum wage was historic. But if it is not enforced, what good is it? As reported in www.seattleweekly.com.

Comprehensive statistics are lacking on the extent of wage violations in Seattle today, but dozens of studies and investigations by federal and state agencies have uncovered widespread violations nationwide.

Wage Theft Rampant

A 2009 report by the National Employment Law Project surveying thousands of low-wage workers in New York, Chicago, and Los Angeles found that nearly seven in 10 workers had experienced at least one pay-related violation in the previous work week, and that more than one-quarter of respondents had been paid less than minimum wage. Three-quarters of those who had worked more than 40 hours had not been paid the required time-and-a-half rate.

In addition to failure to pay minimum wage and overtime, common violations include requiring employees to work off the clock, denying meal breaks, illegal deductions, misclassifying workers as independent contractors, and not paying for all hours worked.

Have you been a victim of wage theft? Is it a moral issue? Is it something that a stop theft class for the employer might remedy? What are your thoughts?

Do Wage Thieves Need Stop Theft Class?

by Mike Miller September 7, 2014

Wage theft is most definitely a crime. This is a crime the state of Washington is well aware of.

In the past eight years, both the Washington legislature and the Seattle City Council have passed laws to address what’s coming to be understood as a huge problem. It’s a misdemeanor under city and state law. Widespread violations of minimum-wage laws, overtime provisions, and other examples of wage theft have been well documented in recent decades. As reported in www.seattleweekly.com.

And yet in hundreds of cases annually, Washington fails to retrieve workers’ shorted wages. Meanwhile, the city ordinance has yet to bring about even a single prosecution of employers who withhold pay.

The Washington Department of Labor & Industries has sped up wage-complaint investigations over the past several years, yet four in 10 cases take longer than the legally mandated 60 days. And the department collects less than $6 of every $10 it says workers are owed.

Do you think wage theft is rampant across the country? We will continue to look at this problem, through the "eyes" of Washington in subsequent blogs here at stoptheftclass.com

Serial Thief Needs More Than Theft Education Program

by Mike Miller August 30, 2014

Did you know that in some parts of the world if you get caught shoplifting you lose a finger or hand? What do you think they would do to this New Jersey thief? The bigger question is this – what would you consider appropriate punishment?

How many times getting arrested would you consider being egregious? 5? 10? 20? Get this - A Jersey City man with 77 prior arrests in three states has been charged with burglarizing a Newport Centre Mall store after the store had closed for the day. As reported in www.nj.com.

The thief is 44-year-old Michael Barton who appeared in court via video link from Hudson County jail on the charges of burglary, theft and resisting arrest.

He is charged with forcing open a rear door at 2:45 a.m. and taking 29 T-shirts, 29 blouses, 26 skirts, 27 dresses and five jackets with a total value of about $5,300.

Barton made matters worse when he decided to resist arrest when police officers ordered him to comply. Barton has been arrested 36 times in New Jersey, where he has 25 disorderly persons convictions and a criminal conviction for drug possession.

He has been arrested 37 times in Florida and four times in Maryland.

Again, I ask you, what should be his punishment? If you figure he stole or committed a crime 100 times for every time he got caught, he has acted in a criminal manner thousands of times. I think a theft education program could not help him and he belongs behind bars. What do you think?

Statue Thief Should Take an Anti-Theft Class

by Mike Miller August 25, 2014

There are those who dislike the University of Notre Dame. Some dislike them because they are so darned good at sports. There are others who dislike them for the Catholic religion. Do you think religion came into play in the mind of this thief?

Do you think stealing from a church is any worse than other types of theft? Do you think this thief might be going to Hell? Here is the story.

The paint was chipped and faded, the facade aged and worn. Yet, nestled quietly in a secluded, wooded alcove, a statue of Saint Francis stood ever vigilant and welcoming for nearly four decades. Generations of parishioners at Holy Trinity Episcopal Church grew up praying and reflecting in its midst. Then one morning two to three weeks ago, it was simply gone.

It's one thing if it's a lawnmower or something you can use, but a statue? What's a person going to do with a statue? As crazy as it sounds, this wasn't the first time. A week before Saint Francis vanished, another statue, this one of Saint Therese, was stolen from among the vegetables and flowers of the church's Garden of Saint Therese.

Do you think this is metal theft? Why on Earth would someone steal a religious icon that has no real value on the resale market? I would hope this thief comes to his senses and returns the stolen property. I would also recommend a good online stop theft class to help them cope with the any theft-like thoughts.

Stealing Animals? Take an Anti-Theft Course

by Mike Miller August 20, 2014

As the educational director here at stoptheftclass.com I am always interested to hear about theft statistics around the world. Here are some interesting facts about animal theft in the United Kingdom.

Animal theft stats in the United Kingdom are quite shocking! As reported in 6000.co.za.

More than 110 animals, including fish, horses, birds and dogs, were stolen in Surrey, England last year. In Surrey, the reported thefts included one sheep, nine fish, 23 birds, 16 horses and 32 dogs. Dude, it doesn’t get any worse than stealing man’s best friend!

To put this in perspective, 118 animal thefts adds up to around one every three days . I am not sure how that compares, but I do know that one of my neighbors recently had their two dogs stolen. These were not special breeds of dogs, but mutts found at the local animal shelter.

Here are some other figures for animal theft in the UK. On the low-end the City of London reported only one dog theft, while Edinburgh, Scotland had 30,593 animal thefts.

For those of you who have had an animal stolen, you know how heart-breaking it can be. I would like to see mandatory anti-theft classes to reduce theft and the mindset of theft. Stealing is bad karma! 

Month List

Category list