Justice Department sues Hobby Lobby over thousands of looted Iraqi artifacts it bought

According to a lawsuit (PDF) filed Wednesday by the U.S. Department of Justice, craft retailer Hobby Lobby illegally imported thousands of Iraqi artifacts, intentionally mislabeled them and lied about their origins.

Though a consultant to the company estimated the artifacts' value at $11,820,000, an invoice shows Hobby Lobby paid $1,600,000 for them in deals with the United Arab Emirates and Israel. Shipment of these artifacts, which were labeled “ceramics” and “samples,” totaled more than $2,000 and thus require formal entry. Hobby Lobby continued with the deal even though an expert advised the company the artifacts were likely looted and carried "considerable risk." Hobby Lobby did not attempt verify the legal custodian or origin of 5,513 of the artifacts at any point, according to the suit.

NBC News reports that Hobby Lobby has agreed to return its stolen loot.

In a statement, Hobby Lobby President Steve Green acknowledged "regrettable mistakes" that he chalked up to inexperience.

"We should have exercised more oversight and carefully questioned how the acquisitions were handled," Green said, adding that the firm fully cooperated with the investigation by the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of New York.

Hobby Lobby markets itself as a Christian company and famously took the government to court to secure a religious exemption from providing insurance plans that covered birth control.

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100 phones found in accused festival thief's backpack

What a haul: 100 handsets in a single backpack, found after festival-goers at Coachella trained the "Find My iPhone" app on their missing gadgets.

Reinaldo De Jesus Henao, 36, was busted after several concert-goers activated the “Find My Phone” feature on their lost smartphones and noticed that the signals led them directly to him. The ordeal was several days in the making and, according to the Indio Police Department, it took an equal effort by authorities and music fans to catch the prolific smartphone bandit.

“I noticed some chatter on social media about phones disappearing on Reddit,” said Indio Police Sergeant Dan Marshall in an interview with Gizmodo. “One of the common threads [among Reddit posters] was that they were all losing their phones at the Sahara tent.”

There's something funny about a crowd of marks so distracted and unware of their surroundings that a thief could work a hundred people before being caught by a computer program.

Photos: Indio Police Department, composited by Gizmodo. Read the rest

Bronx cops can steal anything they want by calling it "evidence"

In the Bronx (and, to a lesser extent, elsewhere) when your belongings are seized as "evidence," it can be impossible to ever get them back, even if you're never charged with a crime. Read the rest

Scanners let Oklahoma cops seize funds from prepaid debit cards without criminal charges

The Oklahoma Department of Public Safety has purchased several 'Electronic Recovery and Access to Data' devices to install in police cruisers for seizing funds from prepaid debit cards during roadside arrests.

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Wyclef Jean just had the worst Reddit AMA ever

“Hi wyclef. As a young songwriter myself, I have a question for you. What's a good fake charity I could start up to rob people of money who really need it? Thanks so much.”

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$17 radio amp lets thieves steal Priuses

If your car has a proximity-based ignition fob that lets you start the engine without inserting a key, thieves on the street in front of your house can use an amp to detect its signal from your house and relay it to the car, getting away clean. Read the rest

Man took skin from hospital. It's still missing.

A Delaware man was arrested this week for allegedly stealing $357,000 worth of human skin from the Philadephia hospital where he worked. What was done with the grafts, taken between November 2011 and July 2013, remains a mystery.

Gary Dudek, 54, was charged with theft and tampering with records after officials at Mercy Philadephia Hospital noticed that the skin was missing. Dudek worked as a sales representative for regenerative medicine company Organogenesis, reports NBC News. According to investigators, Dudek abused an "open purchase order" to make unauthorized orders for skin that were billed to Mercy.

Surveillance footage recorded Dudek taking the grafts and placing them in his car, but his lawyer says the hospital has yet to prove his client did anything wrong. Read the rest

The difference between a white guy breaking into a car and a black guy breaking into a car

Simple Misfits conducted a test. They had a white guy spend 30 minutes ostentatiously trying to break into a car. Everyone ignored him, including a passing police officer. Then they had a black guy do the same th—-LET'S SEE YOUR FUCKING HANDS, GET UP AGAINST THE WALL. [via Gawker] Read the rest

Thieves outwit retailers

To deter theft, shoe stores put only one of a pair of shoes on display. Crooks, however, have them beaten: they simply hunt for the same pair in two stores, each with a different foot on the shelf. [NYPost] Read the rest