Thieves steal phones from AT&T stores, then apologize

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INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (May 13, 2015) - Indianapolis Metropolitan Police are searching for a pair of thieves who stole cell phones from at least a dozen AT&T stores in central Indiana.

Detective Larry Craciunoiu says the suspects are fast and have gotten away with thefts in Indianapolis, Anderson, Greenwood and possibly Hendricks County.  The thefts have all occurred during business hours, mostly after noon.

“Retail dollar amount that we’re looking at so far is maybe around $15,000 to $20,000,” Craciunoiu said.

The thieves seem to be picky about what they take.  They’re only stealing from AT&T stores, and they’re only stealing Samsung Galaxy 5 and 6 model phones.

“They’re all display phones,” Craciunoiu told FOX59.  “And they’re all phones that have been tethered by some kind of security device of some kind.”

Security video from an AT&T store in the 9200 block of Rockville Road on April 30 shows how quickly the suspects move.  It shows a man in is 20s or 30s, about 6 feet tall with a bald head, walking into the store.  The man casually approaches a display table and picks up two cell phones.  In less than 5 seconds, he’s able to detach the phones from the anti-theft cables they were connected to.  Then, he runs out the door with employees chasing him.

The suspect was in and out of the store in 23 seconds.

It’s still not clear how the man is able to disconnect the phones from the security cables so quickly.

“From looking at the cords themselves, they’re not cut,” Craciunoiu said.  “But he is defeating them somehow.”

In the video, AT&T store employees appeared to recognize the suspect as soon as he walked in the door.  Craciunoiu says there’s good reason for that.  It was the 3rd or 4th time he had done the same thing at that store location.

Investigators think the two men commit the thefts separately, but are working together.  Not only do they use the same method, they also tell store employees the same thing.

“There’s been a phrase uttered to employees,” Craciunoiu said.  “Something to the effect of, ‘I’m sorry I have to do this, I’m just trying to feed my family.’”

So far, efforts to track the phones have been unsuccessful.  Detectives don’t know if the phones are being sold locally or somewhere else.

“There have been groups in the past that were sending stolen cell phones of all kinds overseas,” Craciunoiu told FOX59.  “Ukraine being one of the places we know for sure that some have gone.”

An AT&T employee was able to get a picture of a suspect’s getaway car as he ran away from one store.  It is a silver, 4-door Pontiac Grand Am.

IMPD and AT&T officials are discussing options for changing or increasing security at central Indiana stores.

Anyone with information is asked to call Crime Stoppers at (317) 262-TIPS.