FBI snags group that allegedly pinched 23,000 or $6.7 million worth of iPhones

Group was sold iPhones off in small batches, according to local coverage


The FBI today said it had arrested a group of men in connection with the theft of 23,000 Apple iPhones from a cargo area at the Miami International Airport in April.

The stolen iPhones were worth approximately $6.7 million and the arrests of Yoan Perez, 33; Rodolfo Urra, 36; Misael Cabrera, 37; Rasiel Perez, 45; and Eloy Garcia, 42 were all made at the suspect’s residences throughout Miami Dade County, the FBI said. These subjects are in federal custody and are facing federal charges. Their initial appearances are expected to be in federal court in Miami.

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According to the Miami Herald’s coverage of the arrest, an indictment stated that one of the men used a fake ID, doctored up a trailer to look like it came from another business and drove off the airport lot with $6.7 million of Apple iPhones on April 2. The thieves stored the stolen goods in rental storage units. The Herald said the suspects waited and sold off the phones slowly. On May 25, the men sold 100 of the phones for $12,500. A month later, another 80. They picked up the pace afterward, unloading 90 a week later, then 50 more four days later. In total, they managed to sell 600 cellphones before they were caught. Now they face counts of conspiracy to steal goods from an interstate or foreign shipment, theft, possession and conspiracy to receive said goods.

While this group obviously had big ambitions, there have been a couple of large scale thefts of iPhones across the country in recent months, including:

Near Boston this week: (from Boston.com)Seven people rushed an Apple store in Natick evening and stole 19 iPhones that were on display, according to police. The group, made up of males and females, were wearing hoodies and hats to hide their identities when they entered the Natick mall and went directly to the Apple store and surrounded the area where the smartphones were on display, police said. “In orchestrated fashion these individuals cut the security cords and exited the store with 19 phones,” police said. “Apple placed a value on the loss in excess of $13,000.”

Hartford, Ct. police (from Fox 61 News)said Three men, one of them a UPS driver, were arrested in connection with what police called an elaborate iPhone theft ring last week. West Hartford Police said fraudulent cell phone accounts were set up using  the address and personal information of a West Hartford residents.  When the iPhones were delivered to those addresses, some were stolen by the suspects following the UPS truck, according to police.  Police said some packages were declared delivered by a UPS driver but, in fact, were not. That led to the arrest of at least one UPS driver who police believe was involved. Police said over 200 phones valued at over $177,000 are missing. Since May, over 360 phones were ordered to the addresses in West Hartford and 122 are still missing.

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