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A growing criminal offense is a financial plague to retailers

A growing criminal enterprise in New York involves the switching of bar codes on products inside a store and purchasing the products with the lower bar code at the self-checkout counter. The criminal offense involved is generally charged as larceny, theft or grand larceny. The computerized checkout machine sees only the bar code presented to it and puts the lower price on the bill.

A Brooklyn man was recently able to build up a diapers dynasty by allegedly using that technique in dozens, if not hundreds, of Stop & Shop stores throughout New York and neighboring states. The 24-year-old was arrested by police at his apartment in Bushwick this past Thursday afternoon. The man had succeeded in buying thousands of dollars' worth of diapers at a discount price and selling them out on the streets, according to authorities.

Incredibly, the man allegedly told police that he had hit every Stop & Shop in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut. Police say he admitted to pulling off the stunt 14 times at several Stop & Shop stores in Nassau County. The problem goes beyond just diapers, according to the chief of the Nassau DA Economic Crime Bureau. UPC theft has reportedly grown by leaps and bounds in the suburbs in the last two years. Because the machine reads whatever bar code is presented, it is difficult for retailers to catch the perpetrators.

The criminal offense of UPC theft is a major drain of revenues for stores. The criminal offenses under New York law charged against the accused in the diaper caper are grand larceny and falsifying business records. The defendant's statements to police that he engaged in high volumes of criminal activity will likely hold up unless there are Miranda violations making the confessions essentially involuntary. If there are no constitutional violations, the case will be best handled by the defendant's counsel pursuing vigorous negotiations for a generous plea agreement.

Source: newyork.cbslocal.com, "Brooklyn Man Accused Of Stealing Diapers From Stop & Shop Stores Across Tri-State", April 17, 2015

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