Caught on Tape: Armed Man Steals $17K in Cell Phones

The suspect made off with dozens of cell phones after robbing a Sprint store in Poway on Jan. 7

By Monica Garske
|  Friday, Jan 10, 2014  |  Updated 12:46 PM PDT
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Sprint Employee Shares Armed Robbery Ordeal

For the first time since being held up inside a Sprint store, one of the victims is talking about his horrifying ordeal. He spoke exclusively with NBC 7's Steven Luke, just hours after detectives released surveillance video showing the entire robbery unfold.

30+ Phones Stolen in Poway Heist

An unknown man robbed a Sprint phone store in Poway, making off with 30 to 40 costly Apple iPhones. NBC 7's Candice Nguyen reports.
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The San Diego County Sheriff’s Department has released surveillance footage of a brazen armed robbery that took place at a Sprint store in Poway in which a suspect made off with $17,000 worth of cell phones.

The video released by authorities on Thursday shows the frightening moments experienced by employees when a man armed with a gun walked into a Sprint store in a shopping center on Poway Road Monday around 7:45 p.m.

On the tape, the suspect – described by detectives as a man between 35 and 40 years old – can be seen bursting into the shop and pointing his weapon at a female employee sitting behind a desk.

The woman is visibly shaken. The suspect, carrying a black bag, orders the woman to place a multitude of cell phones inside the bag. Later, the gun-wielding suspect can be seen approaching a male employee and ordering him to do the same.

At one point, the male and female victims stand together in a back room inside the store and hurriedly place dozens of cell phones inside the suspect’s black bag as he looks on, still pointing his gun at them.

Once he’s gotten what he wants, the surveillance tape shows the suspect quickly fleeing the store on foot.

NBC 7 San Diego spoke exclusively with store manager Michael Tims on Thursday, one of the employees held at gunpoint in the robbery.

“I panicked to be honest, my initial reaction was panic,” said Tims, recalling the scary encounter.

At one point, with the man’s gun in his face, Tims said he pondered whether he was about to die.
“I absolutely had those thoughts running through my head, 'These are potentially the last moments here,'” he told NBC 7.

According to detectives, the man responsible for the armed robbery remains at large. He’s described as 6 feet tall and 160 to 180 pounds.

He wore a black hooded sweatshirt with a red rim, black pants, black shoes, one black glove on his right hand and a black mask covering his face during the robbery. His gun is described as a silver revolver with a 6-inch barrel.

In all, officials said the man stole between 30 to 40 Apple iPhones – models 4S, 5C and 5S – in the heist, worth about $17,000.

Before he left, the suspect forced the two Sprint employees into a restroom and told them not to come out until he left the store. The employees were not injured.

With the release of the new images and footage of the robbery, official are asking for the public’s help in identifying and locating the suspect.

Anyone with information should call the Crime Stoppers tip line at (888) 580-8477. Tipsters can remain anonymous and a $1,000 reward is being offered for details leading to the arrest of this man.

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