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Police: Robbers wanted cell phones

DULUTH — Gwinnett police are looking for two men who held up a Duluth cell-phone retailer this week, another example of crooks using extreme measures to steal the inactivated devices.

The men posed as customers Monday afternoon and peppered a sales associate with questions at a T-Mobile location in a 6590 Sugarloaf Parkway shopping center.

One suspect asked to buy four Samsung phones worth about $2,000, and when the employee retrieved them, he brandished a black semi-automatic handgun. As the second man bagged the cell phones, the gunman demanded the employee’s necklace and money from the register before both fled.

The employee told police he saw a black BMW five series speed away that the suspects could have been driving. He told police both were skinny black men, about 6 feet tall.

One man wore a goatee and a red-and-green striped Gucci hat. The other wore a white jacket with green stripes on the sleeves and dark pants, the employee told police.

Authorities say cell phones are prized loot for opportunistic thieves, even before they’ve been activated.

Thieves sell cell phones as black-market items on eBay and Craigslist at discounted prices, or ship them for resale overseas, police have said.

Earlier this year, five Alabama teens were so intent on pinching high-end cell phones from Wal-Marts in metro Atlanta, including a Snellville location, they turned to cross-dressing to disguise themselves, police said.

In July, the crew — four men wearing wigs and dresses and a woman, ages 17 to 25 — targeted a Wal-Mart on Ga. Highway 124 and made off with 20 high-dollar phones. Police in Alabama later pulled them over and found most of the merchandise inside the vehicle, police said.

And, in August, Gwinnett police reportedly found a haul of 70 cell phones and accessories worth $7,600 belonging to Boost Mobile in one Norcross man’s apartment.