3 charged in Encino cell phone store robbery may be linked to dozens more robberies – San Bernardino Sun

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Three defendants face federal charges stemming from the armed robbery of a T-Mobile store in Encino last weekend, prosecutors said Wednesday.

Rayford Newsome of Compton, 22, Tony Tyron Lee Stewart of Highland, 21, and Jerome Gregory Belser of San Bernardino, 20, each face one federal count of obstructing a business by means of robbery, according to a criminal complaint filed Tuesday in Los Angeles. to research.

The three could be linked to as many as 50 cell phone store robberies in Southland between November 11, 2021 and last Saturday, according to a Los Angeles Police Department detective who wrote the sworn affidavit in the case. .

The defendants were arrested hours after the robbery at the T-Mobile store at 17133 Ventura Blvd on Saturday. Surveillance and cellphone video of the theft showed three suspects carrying distinctive hammers entering the store during business hours, smashing display cases and taking Apple iPhones and other merchandise, according to the complaint.

Law enforcement received reports of similar thefts on the same day from cellphone stores in Inglewood, Long Beach and Woodland Hills, the complaint states.

Federal prosecutors allege GPS location data from the phones belonging to Newsome and Stewart, and a blue Kia Optima in which they were arrested, showed the phones and the car were in the vicinity of the robberies at the time they drove up. products.

On Saturday evening, LAPD officers used the Kia’s tracker to locate the car in North Hollywood, according to the complaint. After a short chase, Newsome, Stewart, Belser and a minor were arrested.

Prosecutors allege Newsome, Belser and the miner wore clothing similar to that worn by the Encino T-Mobile thieves. Inside the Kia, officers recovered devices with the same serial numbers as the items reported stolen in the Encino robbery, according to the complaint.

Officers also allegedly recovered hammers that had the same distinctive handle color as those used in the Encino T-Mobile robbery, prosecutors said.

The LAPD detective who wrote the affidavit said he believed about 50 other cell phone store robberies “probably were committed by the same group of individuals.”

The charge of obstructing commerce by robbery carries a sentence of up to 20 years in federal prison, prosecutors noted.

Newsome and Stewart were scheduled to make their first appearances in federal court on Wednesday. Belser has a medical condition preventing his appearance, prosecutors said.

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