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Oct 25, 2012 10:35 PM

Cell phone thefts remain a problem

TUCSON- Cell phone thefts remain a problem across the country.

In New York City, police have reported more than 40 percent of all robberies now involve cell phones.

Cell phone thefts in Los Angeles account for more than a quarter of the city's total robberies.

In Southern Arizona, the phone of choice has been the iPhone, as well as the iPad.

One of Tucson's busiest Verizon Wireless stores, "I Know Wireless" has been a target for thieves.

On Wednesday, a man walked in the store and asked to see the iPhone 4 and 5.

Dustin Newman is the manager. He said thieves targeted it five times in the last year.

"He basically stole over $1500 worth of equipment in 30 seconds," Newman said.

He also manages a store on Oro Valley. It's been broken into numerous times.

"We've had several windows smashed in, ceilings have been broken in through," Newman said. "It has been an extremely expensive repair to keep our stores safe."

That's not counting the equipment that's been taken from the display tables.

The "I Know Wireless" stores are privately owned. All five stores have been hit a dozen times since January, so new security measures are in place.

"Anybody that wants to see the new iPhone 5," Newman said. "Needs to show us a driver's license or state ID and a credit card."

Oro valley police said these types of break-ins are on the rise. A police report showed a nearby AT&T store has been targeted as well.

"We're actually seeing the stores that carry the large quantity of electronics that seem to be popular amongst the thieves," said Oro Valley Police Lieutenant Kara Riley.

The police report said two suspects were in the AT&T store for less than two minutes, and were still able to steal various items.

"Usually try and pawn them," Riley said. "Or they'll end up exchanging them for narcotics."

Some thieves try to sell them online, but Newman said once the phones are stolen, they become worthless.

This company has installed new electronic surveillance equipment as well hired security patrols. They are working closely with police to try and get these thieves off the streets.

If you have information please call 911 or 88-Crime.

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