92ºF

Arrest made in string of cellphone thefts in Orlando

Police: Cellphone repair store owner arrested

Local 6 News at 5:30p
Local 6 News at 5:30p

ORLANDO, Fla. – Since September, Orlando police said it's been dealing with a high volume of cellphone theft at retail stores.

In Orlando, there have been nine reported cases of theft and 20 additional thefts in surrounding counties.

OPD said in all, over $150,000 in losses and damages were accrued in the process.

In January, OPD apprehended Shykeem Smith, who confessed to committing multiple thefts of cellphones in various counties. Still, authorities questioned what happened to the stolen phones. Smith told OPD that he sold them to Duc Nguyen, a cellphone repair store owner in Orlando.

As a result, OPD teamed up with the Seminole County Sheriff's department and launched an undercover investigation to find Nguyen.

Over the course of six weeks, undercover officers attempted to and successfully sold cellphones to Nguyen on seven different occasions. In the beginning, the sales would occur in the store, but eventually led to sales in back alleys and nearby parking lots.

After six weeks of the investigation, OPD had enough evidence to make an arrest on Nguyen Thursday night on seven felony warrants.

A visit to Nguyen's home on Friday revealed a surprised roommate, who never suspected his friend way doing anything wrong.

"I've been to his store before," said Bing Tran. "He's fixed my cellphone before."

Tran and his family live in the same house as Nguyen. After hearing the news of his arrest Friday, Tran said Nguyen has to find somewhere else to live.

"Find another place. It's too dangerous for my kid."

Nguyen was booked into Orange County Jail Thursday night. He's facing charges of dealing in stolen property and violation of secondhand dealer statute.