Cell phone store owners fear they’re being targeted by violent criminals

Some independent cell phone store owners fear they are being targeted by criminals with guns.

From robberies to burglaries, store owners told FOX13 they want help from Memphis police.

A suspect used a shotgun to rob a store in 3400 block of Park on Friday.

RELATED: Police searching for suspect after armed robbery at Memphis cell phone store

The stolen phones are being sold to people who could get charged as well.

Buying stolen items is a crime, and if you didn't know it was stolen you could have phone confiscated and you are out of money.

Stopping the theft is what some store owners want to happen before someone gets hurt.

Imagine trying to run a business and instead of concentrating on your bottom line, you have to deal with people pointing a gun in your face.

Some independent franchise cell phone store owners complain it is happening to them in the Memphis area.

"They not only rob the store of its money, but they also rob the customers of their personal belongings and the employees," Gabriel Martinez told FOX13.

Martinez is a store manager of a franchise in Horn Lake.

He called FOX 13 after cell phone franchise owners in Memphis called him because they are scared about the next robbery.

"It seems as if the word is out that cell phone retailers are an easy target," he said.

Memphis police told FOX13 they have four cases of either business burglaries or business robberies involving a cell phone store.

FOX13 checked the MPD reports and found two robberies just last week.

One happened on Getwell with the suspects using what appeared to be assault-style weapons.

The other one happened on Park where the gunman actually fell down trying to run, only to return to get the cash register.

"Maybe this bumbling idiot tried to get his piece of the action," Martinez said.

The criminals apparently know the new cell phones and other gadgets can sell quickly to either friends on the corner or unsuspecting customers looking for a discounted deal on the web.

Police warn if you buy something reported stolen you could possibly face charges.

Martinez said store owners want some help from the police to protect them and their livelihood.

"Patrol, a little extra patrol. Come by during the middle of the day," he said.

Martinez told FOX13 some store owners plan to improve their security.

Memphis police emailed FOX13 to say these merchants can join the MPD Business Watch and Neighborhood Watch Programs to get tips on how to improve their safety for themselves and their customers.