Smash and grab burglars target Sprint stores

February 7, 2012 4:38:37 PM PST
The search is on for the suspects in a string of cell phone store robberies. Houston police say at least a dozen Sprint stores have been hit since the beginning of the year. The crooks hit four stores just today.

A store on Shepherd at Westheimer was targeted at about 4am when crooks smashed a window and came in through the opening. Surveillance video showed they were in and out in less than four minutes.

Scott Aronstein owns a cluster of cell phone stores. But he's tired of his phone ringing in the middle of the night.

He said, "It's very frustrating because it continues to happen. It appears it's the same people."

Around 4am today his phone rang again. Four guys smashed a window at his store on Westheimer at Shepherd and crawled inside the store. In surveillance video at least three guys can be seen. They're dressed in hooded shirts and dark pants, with their faces and hands covered.

Another surveillance video shows a striking similarity. It shows three guys, wearing dark clothes and masks at a different store.

The spree extends to corporate Sprint stores. About an hour before Aronstein's store was hit thieves broke through a window at a Sprint store on Westpark at Buffalo Speedway. They were in and out and on their way, with merchandise, in six minutes.

"It's very frustrating because it seems not much is being done to stop it," Aronstein said.

In the last week at least eight Sprint stores and franchises have been the scene of smash and grabs. With these break-ins happening more often, neighboring business owners are on alert.

"This morning, it made me back track my steps, make sure nothing broken into overnight," said Randy Parker, a nearby business owner.

Aronstein is left taking security measures into his own hands to curb this costly mess and those dreaded early morning phone calls he gets far too often.

He said, "Every time -- it's repairing glass, it's people coming to work in the middle of the night, it's lost inventory -- very expensive and very frustrating."

In the last 30 days at least 12 Sprint stores and franchises across the Houston area have been targeted, including Dan Sheppard's store on the Gulf Freeway near Fuqua, which was hit around 2am Tuesday.

"They're not realizing there's nothing in the stores," Sheppard said. "I'd like to put a sign on there that says, 'Morons, please don't come in. You're not going to get anything because the phones are all locked up.'"

A national Sprint spokesperson says they're aware of the situation at their store and are working with police on the investigation. If you have any information on any of these burglaries, you're asked to call police.