Group linked to 3 phone store burglaries

A still image from surveillance video at the Sprint store in Allendale Township where a burglary occurred on April 8, 2014. (Courtesy: Ottawa County Sheriff's Office)

ALLENDALE TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WOOD) — The Ottawa County Sheriff’s Department says the five suspects who were caught on camera burglarizing a Sprint store also ripped off two other phone stores on the same morning.

The Sprint store at 5135 Lake Michigan Dr. in Allendale Township was broken into just after 7 a.m. Tuesday, according to Capt. Mark Bennett with the Ottawa County Sheriff’s Office.

Deputies at the scene found a door at the rear of the store that had been forced open by a pry bar. A large number of iPhones and other smartphones were taken, Bennett said. The total loss is expected to be “substantial.”

Surveillance camera footage shows the five suspects kept their hoods up and heads down in the less than two minutes they spent in the store.

Authorities say the group also burgled another Sprint store near Muskegon before the Allendale Township robbery, and later broke into a Verizon store in Allendale.

The incident is also believed to be connected to other phone-store crimes across Michigan, Bennett said.

They may have taken as many as 100 phones from the Sprint stores. The dealer disabled the stolen merchandise immediately. Whoever ends up with them won’t be able to make calls, but will be able to hook up to the Internet via Wi-Fi.

“We’d like to find hopefully — the FCC or the industry — find better ways to help deter people from wanting to steal phones.  Make them useless, brick them, whatever they can to do stop people from wanting  to do this.  It’s definitely a fad,” Sprint dealer Korey Bryant said.

By Tuesday afternoon, the store had already contacted its alarm company about adding improvements.

“Pretty sad state of affairs when your workplace, really you’re here 50 hours a week so its more like home, gets violated and robbed.  It’s tough thing to deal with,” Bryant said.

If you have any information about the thefts, you are asked to call the Ottawa County Sheriff’s Office at 800.249.0911 or email a tip to Silent Observer here.

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