Armed robberies at cell phone stores

DIXON, Illinois (KWQC) - A Davenport cell phone store was robbed at gunpoint in December, and two more hold-ups were reported yesterday: one in Rock Island and one in Dixon, Illinois.

Dixon Police say the location of the store plays a role, but cell phone stores in general are a big target for criminals because of the black market.

“We all know what the value of cell phones are these days,” said Dixon Police Lt., Bradley Sibley. “Most of us don't pay the retail price but they're pretty valuable on the black market.”

Sibley says the US Cellular that was robbed on Monday had actually been robbed before, most likely because of its proximity to the interstate.

“This is actually the second time we've had this happen at that store. About 3 years ago we had a group, 4 gentlemen from Kankakee, Illinois that did the same thing,” added Sibley. “It kind of seems like there's a nexus right along these communities along the interstate.”

It allows them to rob and make a quick getaway - not staying in the vicinity for very long.

“A lot of these gentlemen will drive out from the east side of the state, whether it's one of the suburbs or collar counties,” Sibley said. “They drive along the interstate and they stop at different locations along the interstate where they jump off and target a place.”

The black market gives robbers a platform to sell these phones, with some help from friends.

“There seems to be a lot of value obviously in the phones, as we all know. Anybody who purchases one, usually you get a free phone or discounted phone for getting into a plan. What we've been told, at least, is that these gentlemen have access to people that can break into the phones and actually they can resell them and they're quite valuable as far as what they can get for them.”

Four suspects from the Dixon robbery have been taken into custody. Lt. Sibley says it's all thanks to the community - a bystander saw the suspects leaving the store with a bag and thought something seemed off, so they wrote down the license and car and called it in.