Stolen iPhones recovered, thanks to MPD and Apple employees - WQOW TV: Eau Claire, WI NEWS18 News, Weather, and Sports

Stolen iPhones recovered, thanks to MPD and Apple employees

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MADISON (WKOW) -- Madison police were able to recover nearly $14,000 worth of stolen iPhones Friday, with the help of alert Apple employees at West Towne Mall.

Three suspects, all from out of state, are believed to be part of a large fraud ring, according to an Apple loss prevention officer out of Chicago.  When Madison police pulled over a white Chevy Silverado with Michigan plates, they discovered marijuana, credit and gift cards and 18 new iPhone 5s, each worth $850.  Those phones are believed to have been taken from a Milwaukee area store after two suspects purchased them using counterfeit or bogus gift cards.
 
The Apple loss prevention officer immediately responded by circulating images of the suspects to other Apple stores, including West Towne. 
 
When the two suspects walked into the West Towne Apple store looking to purchase 20 iPhone 5s, staff members became suspicious.  While a clerk was able to stall the transaction, another called police.
 
The staff member intentionally made mistakes while scanning the phones, and began making small talk.  He asked the suspects why they needed so many phones.  One of the men stated they were rappers and wanted to provide iPhones to their "posse."
 
The two became frustrated at the mistakes being made and indicated they would come back later to complete the purchase.  Meanwhile, officers were already in position outside the mall.
An Apple employee took off his company shirt, wearing only a plain white t-shirt, and followed the suspects out.  Officers were told to look for that employee as the suspects would be just ahead of him.
 
As soon as the suspects got in their vehicle and began to move, they were pulled over.
 
Two of the men, Duane Thomas (26) of Oakland, CA and Johnny Fears (24) of Detroit, MI were both arrested for fraudulent use of a credit card and possession of marijuana.  Thomas was also arrested for obstructing.  The third suspect, Michael Barnes III (27) of Hazel Park, MI was arrested for possession of marijuana.
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