Police: Thieves Zip-Tie Store Employees, Steal $160k Worth Of Electronics At Bronx Mall

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Employees at a busy mall in the Bronx were tied up at gunpoint and forced to fork over iPhones, iPads and other electronics.

Police are searching for the two-man crew of thieves, who were picked up on security cameras strolling through The Mall at Bay Plaza just before 9 p.m. Sunday. They can be seen passing by a T-Mobile store, going straight to Sprint.

As CBS2’s Lou Young reported, it’s all the chatter at the shopping center in the shadow of Co-op City.

“Everything had to have been premeditated, planned,” Pelham Bay resident Jose Toledo said.

Three employees on duty were herded at gunpoint into a back room and order to open a safe, holding stacks of brand-new phones, iPads and watches. The thieves bound them hand and foot with zip ties, then calmly left with the valuable loot, Young reported.

“What’s an iPhone go for now? The new ones are what — $700, something like that? The new 7?” Throggs Neck resident Joseph Petrozola wondered.

Unlike devices people carry around, which have already been activated, the phones, iPads and watches stolen from the mall don’t have to be unlocked or wiped before they’re resold.

“Might have something to do with somebody inside, you know? They knew the merchandise, they knew the stock inside the store,” Paul Branch, of Wakefield, said.

Police tell CBS2 the thieves walked out with 280 pieces of factory packed electronic devices, worth as much as $160,000 in retail value. Tech experts say the devices are not impossible to trace, but it’s not easy.

“That’s unbelieveable! I’m surprised. The security’s pretty good around here,” Miguel Braco, of Morris Park, said.

Police say the cellphone store robbers include a Hispanic man in his late 20s to early 30s, 5 feet 9 inches tall with a thin build, wearing sunglasses. His partner is described as a black man in his mid-30s, 5 feet 10 inches tall with a medium build.

They, or someone they’re working with, is likely trying to fence a lot of factory-packed electronics.

A spokesperson for Sprint told CBS2 the company is thankful no one was hurt, and it is fully cooperating with the investigation.

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