Police investigating cell phone store robberies
The Calgary Police Service is investigating what appears to be an organized effort to steal cell phones from retailers across the city.
Between Friday, Feb. 23, and Wednesday, March 15, 2018, 82 similar incidents of theft and robbery occurred at cell phone retailers in Calgary. Based on the suspect descriptions and similar methods used in each incident, it is believed the cases are all connected.
Initially, the suspects would enter the stores and then run out after grabbing one or two phones that were not secure. However, the approach has since escalated. In the most recent incidents, the suspects completely took over the stores and used force to confine the store staff before fleeing with multiple stolen phones.
“It is always concerning to us when we see groups escalate from thefts to robberies because there is the very real potential for violence,” said Inspector Joe Brar, with the Calgary Police Service’s Investigative Operations Section. “We are taking these incidents very seriously and are doing everything we can to identify and charge everyone involved.”
Investigators have already charged four young offenders in connection with one of the incidents, but police believe there are multiple other people involved in the thefts and robberies.
The young offenders were all 16 and 17 years old, and together are charged with eight counts of forcible confinement, four counts of robbery, three counts of wearing a mask with intent to commit a crime, and 10 counts of breaching court conditions. The accused individuals cannot be named under the Youth Criminal Justice Act.
An investigative team has been formed with support from several different parts of the Service to identify other suspects in the group. Police are also working with cell phone retailers to try to prevent further incidents.
Police are asking anyone with information about these incidents or the identities of people involved to contact the Calgary Police Service non-emergency line at 403-266-1234, or Crime Stoppers anonymously using either of these methods:
Tips given to Crime Stoppers that lead to an arrest or the recovery of stolen property can be eligible for a cash reward of up to $2,000. When a reward is given, the anonymity of the person who gave the tip is still protected.