Hold the Phone: Cell Phone Store Robberies on the Rise

By: Josh Sidorowicz Email
By: Josh Sidorowicz Email

"There's so much to it and they know what they're doing, it's not a couple guys just doing this, it's a group of intelligent felons."

-- Saevn Kesto, Sprint store manager, St. Johns

They're fast, precise, and they've managed to get away with hundreds of thousands of dollars in stolen cell phones.

As Saevn Kesto put it, manager of the Sprint store in St. Johns that was robbed this past January -- they know what they're doing.

It's far from an isolated incident.

Kesto discovered the theft had happened in early January after coming into work one morning.

"They just took like a crowbar, every phone was gone," he said.

The thieves made off with roughly 50 to 60 phones, worth about $35,000 in total, according to Kesto who believes his store is part of a much bigger string of thefts that's hit at least 40 stores in Michigan in the past year and a half.

"It seems like every store they're getting into they know where the phones are and they know how much time they have," he said.

"There's so much to it and they know what they're doing, it's not a couple guys just doing this, it's a group of intelligent felons."

In a similar instance this past October, thieves robbed at least two cell phone stores in just a matter of hours in Howell.

Detective Mark Klein of the Livingston County Sheriff's office says the investigation is still ongoing, but this kind of theft has become a 'rampant problem.'

In December, a federal jury found two Detroit men guilty of robbing several cell phone stores across the state over a span of nearly two years.

Investigators aren't sure if they were involved in any of the local break-ins in Mid-Michigan.

While these thefts are no doubt costing the stores they're being taken from, Kesto says the thefts could also very well cost customers down the line.

"Where it really hurts them is if they're the ones who actually end up buying these phones," he said.

Kesto said a lot of the time the stolen phones either end up on the black market being sold overseas, or wind up on E-Bay or Craigslist for cheap, which should send up an instant red flag to potential buyers.

"If it sounds to good to be true, it's probably to good to be true," Kesto said.

Not only that, employing extra security measures at stores to further aim to prevent future thefts can be a costly endeavor, which are costs that would inevitably be passed onto the customer.

"At the end of the day if we're going to spend that much on security, the ultimatum is prices are going to go up in the store and that's going to affect everybody," Kesto said.

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