Three Southern California men, including two from San Bernardino County, were charged on February 4 in an indictment before a federal grand jury for allegedly robbing six cell phone stores in the counties of Los Angeles and Ventura during store hours on the same day, using hammers to smash the display. cases to steal iPhones and other merchandise.
The indictment charges each of the following defendants with one count of conspiracy and six counts of interference with commerce by robbery (Hobbs Law):
• Tony Tyron Lee Stewart, 21, from Highland;
• Rayford Newsome, 23, of Compton; and
• Jerome Gregory Belser, 20, of San Bernardino.
The defendants are in federal custody and their arraignments were scheduled for February 10 in the United States District Court in downtown Los Angeles, according to a press release issued by the United States Department of Justice.
According to the indictment, on January 15, Newsome drove Stewart and Belser in a blue Kia Optima vehicle to rob T-Mobile stores in Long Beach, Carson, Inglewood, Encino and Camarillo, and an AT&T Wireless store in Woodland. Hills. Stewart and Belser allegedly entered stores during business hours to commit the thefts while Newsome remained in the car.
Once inside the stores, Stewart and Belser – in the presence of store employees and customers – reportedly used sledgehammers to smash display cases and phone screens to steal phones and other electronics. After stealing the merchandise, Newsome chased Stewart and Belser from the scene of the theft, according to the indictment.
Law enforcement received reports of similar thefts on the same day from mobile phone shops. During the evening of the thefts, GPS location data from Stewart and Newsome’s phones and the blue Kia Optima showed that both phones and the car were near the thefts when they happened, according to a affidavit filed with criminal complaint. in this case.
That same evening, law enforcement used the blue Kia Optima’s tracker to locate the car in North Hollywood. After a short chase, the defendants were found in the blue Kia Optima, the affidavit states. Inside the car, officers recovered devices reported stolen in the Encino robbery along with hammers that had the same distinctive handle color as those used in that robbery.
The total loss of the six robberies was $33,795, according to the indictment.
According to the affidavit filed with the criminal complaint, law enforcement has linked Stewart, Newsome and Belser to more than 50 cell phone store robberies in Southern California.
If convicted on all charges, each defendant faces a maximum statutory sentence of 20 years in federal prison on each count.