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The recently concluded Christmas shopping season served as an expensive lesson in shopping techniques for owners and operators of retail businesses. The teaching tools were a number of incidents that saw a considerable amount of money and merchandise flow into the wrong hands.
Judging by the most recent incident, some merchants obviously got the message.
On Dec. 1, four Indianapolis residents were arrested on the southeast side of Columbus on forgery charges, accused of buying merchandise at five stores in the Columbus area with counterfeit money.
On Dec. 10, a Columbus resident was arrested in Indianapolis along with two other individuals when police discovered counterfeit $100 bills in an apartment along with weapons and drug paraphernalia.
On Dec. 18, a Clark County man was arrested and accused of passing counterfeit $100 bills in a Columbus store.
In one respect, the most recent arrest is a direct aftereffect of one of the earlier incidents. It took place a day after The Republic carried a story on the exploits of the four Indianapolis residents who used the bogus bills to purchase thousands of dollars worth of merchandise from four area stores earlier in the month.
It was at the fifth store that a cashier became suspicious of the bills handed over for the purchase and notified a supervisor, who in turn called police, steps which led to the arrest of the four individuals and recovery of the goods purchased at the other stores.
That arrest also spawned an investigation into suspected counterfeiting activities at an Indianapolis apartment, where a Columbus man and two others were arrested almost two weeks later.
The publicity about the Dec. 1 arrest focused attention on the need for stores to be more vigilant in handling large amount currencies, and that knowledge was utilized by at least one cashier and proved the undoing of the suspect who was arrested after a foot chase.
Incidents such as these are rare, but many retail stores go to great lengths in training cashiers to be extremely wary of large bills, especially during busy periods, such as the holiday shopping season.
That the bogus bills were spotted at two of the stores is somewhat reassuring. That one of the arrests was made after the earlier incidents were given considerable publicity shows that the lesson was well-learned.
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