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'Grab and go' robberies reported at numerous South Florida cellphone stores

No injuries reported in recent cases

PEMBROKE PARK, Fla. – Cellphone store employees are on edge after a recent rash of "grab and go" robberies all over South Florida in recent weeks.

"It affects (you) psychologically when you have a gun to your head," Brian Zeidman, who owns 23 cellphone stores, said.

Zeidman has changed the way he does business at his Boost Mobile Store on Hallandale Beach Boulevard after 10 of his stores were robbed. 

"I keep my door locked. I go to the front door and I see who is there. Young people, I tell them they have to come in with their parents," he said.

Surveillance videos from the latest rash of robberies show groups of thieves walking into stores separately.

They separate and pretend to look at phones. When the coast is clear, they grab the phones, ripping them off displays and security cords.

Carlos Russell, who works at a Sprint store on Stirling Road, knew something wasn't right when two young men walked into his store recently.

"What caught my attention was the gentleman walked in and asked me if he could buy some accessories," Russell said. "I walked over to show him the accessories (and) he went over to the phones instead. I stood there for 20 seconds waiting for him to come and he didn't. He said, 'I will be there in a second.' I thought something was fishy."

His hunch was right on, as the thieves grabbed three phones and ran.

Russell took a swing at one and the shoplifter dropped one of the phones. 

At the Cricket mobile store on Hallandale Beach Boulevard, employees received special training on what to look for and what to do in case of a robbery.  

"It can be scary sometimes. Even through the day time people are brave nowadays," Cricket employee Amanda Rickets said.

Rickets said the store doesn't keep phones on their displays overnight.

She said the thieves are primarily targeting iPhone 7's. No injuries have been reported in recent cases.