Pickpocketing couple busted for stealing phones, wallets at nightclub, police say

Police say man, girlfriend targeted Roxy nightclub patrons

ORLANDO, Fla. - An Orlando man and his girlfriend have been arrested for stealing cell phones and wallets from unsuspecting nightclub patrons, according to Orlando police.

Mehdi Ari, 19, and Paula Castro, 21, are accused of working together to steal at least four cell phones and other belongings at Roxy nightclub in Orlando.

Investigators are looking into whether the couple may be responsible for additional cell phone thefts at other nightclubs.

On Friday night, officers working at Roxy said they were approached by two women who discovered credit cards and ID's missing from their purses. One of the woman also reported that her $400 iPhone had vanished.

Less than an hour later, two more women flagged down the officers to report cellphones mysteriously disappearing from their purses.

Minutes later, a fifth woman approached the officers claiming she caught a pickpocket with his hand in his purse. When the woman screamed, she said the man dropped the phone and ran away. She later identified the suspected thief as Ari.

Nightclub security located him and Castro still inside the Roxy. Castro was carrying three of the four stolen cell phones, according to police.

Castro told investigators her boyfriend had given her the phones and wallets, but she claimed not to know who owned them, police said.

During the interview, Castro asked for permission to use the restroom at the nightclub. After she was escorted in and out by a female staff member, an officer searched the restroom and located one of the stolen cell phones hidden inside a roll of toilet paper, according to the report.

Just one week earlier, police arrested Ari as he was running away from Club Firestone in Downtown Orlando after a patron said she saw him steal her cell phone, according to court records. The stolen phone was never located.

Thieves who pickpocket phones from purses and bags, known by police as "apple picking," is a nationwide problem. But Orlando police said they are only aware of a few local cases because victims rarely report the crime.

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