Store owner catches distraction-theft on camera

Posted at 10:22 PM, Jun 01, 2017
and last updated 2017-06-02 06:44:47-04

The owner of a cell phone and tablet repair shop in Fort Myers said thieves used a distraction technique to steal from his store. The incident was caught on the shop's surveillance cameras.

Celltemp has been open on Cleveland Avenue for four months. The owner, Erik Rocha, said this is his first encounter with thieves.

"They knew what they were doing," Rocha said.

Rocha said the family visited the store five times in two days. He didn't usually check surveillance video, but after an employee thought something was suspicious, he decided to take a look.

The store's surveillance video shows a family walk into the shop on May 30th. A young boy said he wanted an iPhone. He follows an employee to the repair room.

"He got into a restricted area behind him, but it was a kid, so he didn't suspect anything," Rocha said.

The video then shows the boy grab a phone off the wall and put it in his pocket. He and his family then leave with the phone.

Rocha said an hour later, they came back. Surveillance video shows a woman try to grab an iPhone off of a desk, but it got stuck under the computer nearby. She joins another woman at the display counter and starts sliding the back door of it open.

"She's asking him to write information down for her, check some serials on the computer, everything they can to distract the people," Rocha said.

The other woman is seen reaching her hand in to the display case, grabbing what Rocha believes she thought was an iPhone. Rocha said it was fake. The family left. Rocha checked the surveillance video and realized what happened.

The next day, the family showed up again. The surveillance video shows Rocha walk out of the repair room and lock the front door. He says he told the family he was calling the police.

"At this point,s he started pushing me and tried to scratch me," Rocha said.

Rocha said he followed the family to the motel across the street where they were staying. Police came to investigate.

Rocha said he's sharing what happened to prevent others from falling for the same distraction-style theft.

"Need to be watching everything that's happening in your stores," Rocha said. "Just be aware, these things can happen."

Rocha said charges have not been filed and the State Attorney's Office is reviewing the case.