Photos and video released of trio sought in cellphone thefts
Jan 21, 2013 (Sun Sentinel - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) --
CORAL SPRINGS -- -- It appears one of the latest group of robbers to hit a South Florida cellphone store thought of everything in their well-orchestrated plan, including tying up employees with plastic cuffs and stealing the video surveillance system.
Police now have their own plan, using a backup surveillance video they hope will lead to an arrest.
Coral Springs Police on Monday released clear images and video taken during the Jan. 17 armed robbery at the T-Mobile store in the 1300 block of North University Drive.
The robbery was one of the latest in South Florida in which gunmen hold store employees at gunpoint and make off with new smartphones worth thousands of dollars.
"They are getting more brazen," said Sgt. Brad McKeone. "If these phones are worth a couple hundred bucks on the streets, these groups are making a quick couple thousand dollars, or maybe even more. Obviously, there is a market for them."
In the video released Monday, a man and a woman enter the store at about 9:30 p.m. just as store employees are preparing to close. An employee is seen attending the woman while the man walks around.
When all the customers have left, the man is shown pulling out a handgun and ordering two employees to the back of the store.
The robbers were joined by another man, who restrained the workers with zip ties. The robbers took 25 Samsung Galaxy III S cellphones, worth an estimated $600 to $700 each, along with cash, according to police.
The three robbers also took the surveillance system's hardware, but T-Mobile's corporate office records a backup of the surveillance video, McKeone said.
McKeone said he thinks the phones usually are sold on the black market. Someone buying such phones will not be able to activate them legitimately, he said.
"The good news is that you got a new cellphone for a couple hundred bucks," he said. "The bad news is that it was involved in an armed robbery."
Police said it remains unclear if all the area robberies are connected. Videos released in recent weeks show different groups of robbers, but they usually follow the same robbery plan.
However, police in North Miami Beach said a different method was used. A Verizon Wireless cellphone store was burglarized early Saturday after a pick-up truck smashed into the store.
Coral Springs police ask anyone with information about the case to call Detective Chris Collins at 954-346-1262 or Broward Crime Stoppers at 954-493-8477.
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