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Cell phone store robbery caught on camera sparks warning to online buyers

Data pix.

SPEEDWAY, Ind. -- Speedway police are searching for a pair of armed thieves caught on camera robbing a cell phone store.

No one was hurt during the robbery; managers and police agree the story can serve as an important reminder about the perils of buying cell phones on the secondary market.

Wearing hoodies with bandannas covering their faces, two robbers stormed into a Verizon store in Speedway with guns.

The crooks stole close to $30,000 in phones and electronics, but employees cooperated and lived to tell the tale.

“We’re doing our best to keep ourselves and our community safe,” said Verizon employee Jacob Wethington.

Less than two miles away from that Verizon store, someone stole a car from an apartment parking lot.

Police reports show that thief used the stolen car during an armed robbery at a Sprint store on Indy’s south side and a half hour later the same armed crook hit an AT&T store.

It’s not clear if all three crimes are connected, but employees at the three stores say stolen phones often end up on the secondary market like OfferUp, before being bought by people who don’t realize the phones are useless.

“We see that all the time. I mean when someone brings in a phone to activate it, it’s a roll of the dice. I can’t give you exact stats, but one out of four phones I would say bought on the street are ones we can’t even activate,” said Wethington. “While it may seem like a great deal at the time, you’re spending 4 or $500 dollars on a paper weight.”

Because stolen phones can be instantly blocked by cellular networks, Jacob says there are websites people can use to check a phones IMEI number, which is basically the phones serial number, to make sure they don’t get ripped off.

“Make sure you’re doing your research at the very least see the serial number on the device and see where that phone has been. Just like when you buy a car, you want to see where the car has been. It’s the same thing with a phone, except with a phone once it’s reported it’s done forever,” said Wethington. “My advice will be to double check any decision. Don’t just jump on something because it seems like a great deal.”

Anyone with information about the suspects seen in the surveillance images can contact either Speedway police or Crime Stoppers at 317-262-TIPS.

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