Police: Stolen cellphones sold to repair shop

Police in the Western Cape have confiscated dozens of cellphones believed to have been stolen and sold to a repair store in Mfuleni, Western Cape.

Police spokesperson Warrant Officer Joseph Swartbooi said a recent spike in robberies in the area had led police to start an intelligence operation that led to the arrest of three men recently.

The suspects were found with multiple cellphones and could not explain where they came from.

ALSO READ: ‘Phone is not worth your life’, expert

Swartbooi said the cellphones were believed to have been taken in street robberies and sold to the owner of the cellphone repair centre in the area.

They visited the repair centre on Wednesday.

“Upon entering the premises, they searched the entire area and confiscated a consignment of mobile devices.

“The owner of the property could not provide a reasonable explanation for having the mobile devices. Three males aged between 24 and 26 were arrested on a charge of possession of presumed stolen property,” said Swartbooi.  

ALSO READ: Man robbed of cellphone at long-distance taxi rank in Ermelo

The suspects are expected to appear in the Blue Downs Magistrate’s Court soon.

Security expert Dr Johan Burger told The Citizen that cellphone robberies would continue because there is a market for them.

“A cellphone is relatively small and can easily be hidden by the criminal after a robbery. Then it can be sold to the willing buyer at a price significantly lower than its value. Both parties score,” he said.

How to be vigilant and avoid cellphone robberies

According to non-profit organisation Residents Action Group (RAG), here’s how to avoid your cellphone being stolen:

  • Do not walk in quiet or dark streets alone
  • Do not talk or text on your phone while walking in the street or in shopping malls
  • Do not use your phone while stopped in a car

If your phone is stolen:

  • Try to locate your phone using Google “Find My Device” and Apple “iCloud – My iPhone” on a desktop
  • Don’t try to recover the phone without police or security assistance
  • Contact your service provider to blacklist the phone and block the SIM
  • Change all your passwords, including your email and social media accounts
  • Report the incident to police

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