Eligibility

No big fish story here - this is the one that didn't get away!   A collaborative effort with results measured in big dollars, big impact on the bottom line, or big changes in operational policy, this is an investigation that is noteworthy for making an impact and making a difference.  

The Investigation of the Year is about the case, and the whole case - but not "nothing but the case", because this category is intended to recognize the people, the process and the result, which may include the effect the investigation had on others, on the community, and on the industry.  To be eligible for nomination, the investigation must have concluded or culminated to the point of prosecution, during the calendar year of the award nomination.   The investigation is eligible for nomination by anyone that was involved with it, or that has public, or intimate, knowledge of the specific case details.  

We do ask that you please keep the details to a high level, referencing only information that is known publicly, and that you are sensitive to not share any information that is restricted, confidential, or otherwise classified.

To recognize a specific individual as a consistent performer when it comes to investigations, please consider nominating under the Investigator of the Year category.  
SUBMIT YOUR NOMINATION!
Nominations for 2020 are closed. Your 2020 finalists are listed below.
2021 nominations will open in September 2021.

and The 2020 finalists are...

Here are your finalists for 2020 Investigation of the Year:

  • Operation Proof of Purchase CVS ORC Team
  • The Home Depot ORC Team (Texas and Colorado)
  • Operation Looted and Burned, Rite Aid Asset Protection and the Sacramento Police Department
  • Operation Bleeding Edge (Walmart, Albertson’s, Home Depot, Lowes, and Target)


FINALIST:                                      Operation Proof of Purchase CVS ORC Team
 
A cooperative operation between the organized retail crime team at CVS Health and law enforcement led to a massive recovery of stolen merchandise in northern California culminating in one of the largest organized retail crime (ORC) cases ever recorded in the United States. Multiple arrests were made and a mountain of health and beauty products were seized from a several locations throughout the San Francisco Bay area following a well-planned and diligently executed campaign that ultimately resulted in a $50 million case against a sophisticated organized retail crime operation that had been targeting retailers in the Bay area for several years.
More than $8 million in stolen product was recovered on-site as authorities sorted through the inventory of razor blades, white strips, over-the-counter medications, mouthwash, shampoo products, and other health and beauty merchandise while gathering additional details. All of the product recovered has been confirmed as stolen from stores across the Bay area and northern California.
The asset protection team at CVS Health evolved its ORC strategy to work with key stakeholders in the field and across the company. This included intelligence starting with store employees, reviewing video and previously gathered evidence, verifying intelligence, thoroughly researching all available information, completing necessary documentation, and finalizing case presentations to identify these perpetrators and ensure the stores continued to operate smoothly, productively, and safely while mitigating retail crime.
Operation Proof of Purchase was a collaborative effort between the CVS Health organized retail crime team as part of a joint investigation with the Division of Law Enforcement’s White-Collar Investigation Team, the San Mateo County Sheriff’s Office’s Crime Suppression Unit, the California Highway Patrol, and the San Francisco County District Attorney’s Office. Approximately 100 law enforcement officers were involved in the investigation as part of the public-private task force. The retail side of the investigation found its roots with the organized retail crime team at CVS Health.

FINALIST:                   The Home Depot ORC Team (Texas and Colorado)
A joint investigation involving law enforcement officials and The Home Depot loss prevention team led to the arrest of a man in Katy, Texas. At the time of the arrest, police tracked a trailer of stolen goods to the home, which was filled with items worth more than $1 million to include merchandise such as lawn equipment, hardware, tools, and light fixtures.
According to investigators, every room in the home was completely “stuffed with merchandise,” to include everything from fishing rods to food savers to power tools. The homeowner had even constructed a mechanized lift in the home capable of moving heavy equipment, essentially creating an elevator system used to bring heavy material from the bottom floor of the house to the upstairs rooms so they wouldn’t have to use the stairs. The suspect was allegedly selling the goods through an online marketplace.
This case offers a prime example of outstanding investigative work, excellent reporting and follow-through, and exceptional partnerships between the Home Depot loss prevention team and the law enforcement partners involved in the development—and ultimate outcome of this investigation.
 
FINALIST:                  Operation Looted and Burned, Rite Aid Asset Protection and the Sacramento Police Department
On the evening of May 31, 2020 the State Capitol of California was besieged by thousands of protestors in support of the Black Lives Matter movement. While most of these protestors were peaceful, violence and looting erupted as darkness fell on the downtown Sacramento area. At the center of this violence was the Capitol building, and the hardest hit buildings were the businesses and retailers surrounding the Capitol, including the Rite Aid Pharmacy located in a historic building walking distance from the State Capitol.
Over a period of several hours, the Rite Aid location was looted and eventually a fire was set inside the store. This resulted in a total loss of contents of the store, amounting in losses of just under $2 million dollars. Hundreds of buildings and retailers were burglarized and damaged, and it took most of the downtown Sacramento area months to reopen as a result of the destruction. Overall, Rite Aid suffered significant losses across the Sacramento market, with burglaries at nine other store locations as well, but the downtown Sacramento store was the hardest hit.
With continued protests and looting, the Sacramento Police Department and Rite Aid had their hands full in the weeks to follow, trying to build cases against those who participated in the looting. As part of the loss prevention investigation, Rite Aid regional asset protection leader Connie Ribble was able to locate an eager and motivated police detective named Jon Houston to work the case. In a period of 2 months the Rite Aid team and 2 Sacramento police officers reviewed hundreds of hours of video, Facebook postings, street cameras, Twitter feeds, and Snap Chat videos to put together prosecutable cases. In an agreement with the Sacramento District Attorney’s office to vehemently pursue prosecutions for all the felony cases, the team worked nonstop to secure arrest warrants, interview suspects and sort through recovered merchandise to identify Rite Aid property.
In the end, “Operation Looted and Burned” was recognized as the largest successfully prosecuted looting case in the Sacramento region, with a total of 13 suspects arrested and charged with 25 felonies. So far, five suspects have been convicted and sentenced to more than 450 days in jail. The remainder of the cases are still pending disposition in Sacramento Superior Court.

FINALIST:     Operation Bleeding Edge (Walmart, Albertson’s, Home Depot, Lowes, and Target)
In August of 2019, a group of retailers (Walmart, Albertson’s, Home Depot, Lowes, and Target) launched an ORC investigation of a business operating as a store front for stolen merchandise. It all started with the sale of stolen bulk packaged razor blades via on-line sales platforms. The case was coined, Bleeding Edge. The business was selling everything from power tools, cosmetics and beauty care products, vitamins, pots and pans, and even pregnancy test kits. Thefts were linked to Colorado, Minnesota, Texas, and Arizona.
Throughout the 2020 calendar year, surveillance of the business determined that almost daily, the store was visited by known and unidentified boosters who delivered trash bags full of stolen merchandise.  Over 100 hours of vehicle surveillance was conducted, and two pole cameras were used to monitor the business. Over 137 days of pole camera video was reviewed including approximately 63 terabytes of data more than 8,000 pages of evidence.
After the investigation was firmly established with 16 undercover sales by the retail team, the case was presented to the Colorado Financial Investigations Regional Strike Team (FIRST) Taskforce, which consisted of law enforcement partners with the U.S. Secret Service, U.S. Postal Service, U.S. Internal Review Service, the Colorado Department of Revenue, the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office and the Castle Rock and Lone Tree Police Departments.
An additional 12 undercovers sales were conducted under the guidance of our law enforcement partners. GPS trackers were used in some of the product sold into the business to track the ultimate destination of the merchandise. On a number of occasions, the investigative team purchased items they had sold into the business and were able to determine the merchandise’s origination.
The case culminated with the search of the business, a residence, and a storage facility. The operation consisted of 58 federal, state, county, and city law enforcement team members, along with 16 retailers (74). The retail product recovered filled an entire 48-foot tractor trailer. Eight individuals were indicted.
A Market Impact of $7 million dollars has tentatively been established, however this number will also increase as the case continues to unfold. As additional arrests are made in the coming weeks, there will be much more to share, however this has already been recognized as the largest ever organized retail crime case in the history of the state of Colorado.

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