Businesses suspected of buying stolen property were raided.
Police say evidence they uncovered could be tied to a rising trend in crime.
They arrested the owner on suspicion of buying stolen property.
Inside the stores they found hundreds of smart phones. Police suspect some of those phones were stolen.
A stolen smart phone will get the thief twenty bucks.
But the people buying it - knowing it's stolen - can turn that phone around for a huge profit.
These are just a few of the smart phones
Officers seized hundreds of used cell phones.
And they believe many of them are stolen.
”It used to be the gold that was the driving factor but now it's the iPhones that are taking center stage,” said Sgt. Tim Tietjen with the Fresno Police Department.
Police all across
Megan Lerma had her cell phone stolen.
“It was tough because my life is such a big part of my phone. my emails on there my bank accounts are on there. Everything's on my phone. So it was a real big invasion of privacy,” Lerma said.
Megan's phone was taken when someone grabbed her purse at a Starbucks.
But some of the thieves are getting violent, holding people up at gunpoint - for their cell phone.
“It's a violent crime, it's by force or fear,” Sgt. Tietjen said.
The thieves get about 20-dollars for the stolen phone.
But the stores that buy them - can make hundreds of dollars off that stolen phone, just like a stolen car that's stripped for parts.
At ‘Cash 'N Gadgets' that was raided Tuesday, a sign advertises smart phone repairs.
A replacement for a broken screen: a hundred dollars.
Police say that replacement screen may have come from a stolen phone.
The parts can also be combined with a broken phone to make it functional, which is then sold on eBay.
“It's a good phone he sells it on eBay for 500-dollars after paying for a stolen phone, only 20-bucks. So again the markup is incredible how much money he's making,” Sgt. Tietjen said.
We want to stress that not every cell phone repair shop is using stolen parts...
But police say that does happen.