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January 31, 2013

Assault rifle used in cellphone store heist

By Brian Louwers
C & G Staff Writer

WARREN — Police said two men used an assault rifle and a trash bag to steal an estimated $15,000 worth of merchandise during a “takeover style” mid-day robbery at a cellphone store near 10 Mile Road and Hoover Jan. 26.

According to a police report, officers were dispatched to the AT&T retail store at 11526 E. 10 Mile after the robbery occurred at 2:45 p.m. Responding officers spoke to an employee, a customer who was in the store when the robbery took place and two women who witnessed the getaway. 

The store’s security video system reportedly captured footage of a black man with a medium build wearing all black clothing and a black ski mask enter the store armed with what appeared to be an AK-47. A second suspect described as a heavyset black man — also wearing all black clothing and a black ski mask — then entered the store with a black garbage bag that he later used to haul away stolen merchandise.

The employee told police the armed suspect pointed the rifle at him and ordered him to go to the back of the store where the smartphones were kept. The suspect also allegedly punched a customer in the jaw and threatened to shoot him if he did not comply with his demand to get on the floor.

After loading phones and cash from the store’s register into the garbage bag, the two men fled west on 10 Mile in a silver extended-cab Ford F-150.

Two women who were in the parking lot at the time told police they saw the men flee.

One of the women said she approached the store and found the door locked but with its “open” sign still displayed.

According to a police report, the witness said she saw a man in a ski mask inside of the store and that the man waived her away.  The woman said she ran back to her sister’s vehicle and called 911.

Police believe a black woman with eyelash extensions drove the F-150 used in the getaway.

No shots were fired during the robbery and no one was seriously injured.

But police said the investigation was a “high priority” due to the violent methods used and the potential risks involved.

“It’s takeover style. These are scary,” Warren Police Detective Sgt. Stephen Mills said. “There’s an extreme amount of force used to facilitate the robbery.”

Mills said the robbery was similar to one recently reported in Southgate, where an armed suspect used a garbage bag to haul away stolen cellphones.

The investigation remained ongoing Jan. 30 and was being handled by Warren Police Detective Mel Nearing.

Anyone with information about the suspects or the heist can reach Warren detectives at (586) 574-4810.

You can reach C & G Staff Writer Brian Louwers at brianlouwers@candgnews.com or at (586)498-1089.