Thieves targeting phones in Henry County robberies - DC News FOX 5 DC WTTG

Thieves targeting phones in Henry County robberies

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Surveillance footage shows robbers target cell phones at a Verizon store in Henry County. Surveillance footage shows robbers target cell phones at a Verizon store in Henry County.

Police are investigating a rash of cell phone store burglaries in Henry and Gwinnett counties. Victims say the thieves are bypassing money for the high-priced store merchandise.

In June, robbers used a crowbar to break into a Verizon store in Henry County. In December, managers of another store say robbers beat one of their employees with a gun. On Tuesday, masked men, barged in during store hours and went straight for cell phones.

"They're after the phones. Actually two times they didn't care about the cash. One time they even left cash -- walked over cash on the floor. It's like that was the last thing on their minds," said Charlie Peck, director of operations at Verizon.

Peck has released surveillance video of the crimes in hopes that the robbers will be caught.  In addition to three robberies in Henry County, cell phone stores in Gwinnett County were hit twice last month. Investigators believe the phones are being sent overseas.

"I hate to use the word, but it almost seems like a ring nowadays. Like there's an actual professional organization going out including scouters, people actually doing it, people ferrying the phones, we think overseas," said Peck.

Joshua Hammock was working into the Hudson Bridge Road store when robbers came in on Tuesday and held him at gunpoint.  He says robbers filled a trash bag with phones and also took the surveillance video that had captured them in the act.

"The part that catches you off guard is the realization of what's actually about to happen," said Hammock. "That's when they told us, ‘Look we're just here for the phones so don't do anything stupid.'"

Henry County police say they are now working with Gwinnett to see if these robberies are connected.

In the meantime, managers say cell phone carriers are coming up with a system to disable the phones when they are stolen.

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