2/7/2008 10:39:00 AM
Phones 4u staff chased ‘prolific’ thief into city street
Police have smashed a one-man mobile phone racket, which saw £20,000 worth of handsets stolen across the UK.
Marlon Mighty, 32, was the scourge of Phones 4u stores, using a well-rehearsed distraction routine to switch live mobiles with dummy handsets that netted him more than 70 top-end phones.
Mighty, a Jamaican national who has since been deported back to his home country, was based in South Norwood, London, but he targeted Phones 4u stores all over the country.
Police said his routine was so well rehearsed that some of the thefts were not discovered until several days later.
In a bid to catch the thief, Phones 4u bosses, working closely with the National Mobile Phone Crime Unit (NMPCU), circulated a description of Mighty to stores across the UK. His cover was nearly blown in one incident at a store in Oxford Street, London, when staff cottoned onto his ruse. They chased him into the street but were unable to catch him.
However, Mighty eventually came unstuck on 28 November when he tried to switch a dummy Samsung G600 at a Phones 4u store in Hamilton, near Glasgow.
An eagle-eyed store member recognised him from the description circulated by the NMPCU and called the police. He was then apprehended in a Glasgow fast food restaurant.
Jack Wraith (pictured) of the Mobile Industry Crime Action Forum (MICAF) said: ‘He was a prolific thief. He’d go into a store and pick up a dummy handset, and then commit a distraction theft in another store. Phones 4u was determined to put a stop to him.’
Chris Paice of the NMPCU said: ‘He’d hit a particular area and then move on. He took one phone at a time, but we estimate that he committed in excess of 70 offences.’
A Phones 4u spokeswoman said: ‘Mr Mighty was suspected of numerous offences and travelled the length of the country to perpetrate them.
‘But following an application Mr Mighty was deported to Jamaica, and is permanently excluded from the United Kingdom.
‘This was an excellent investigation, which highlighted the benefits of close co-operation between industry and law enforcement.’