Los Angeles: Detectives have dubbed two men wearing masks and dark clothing the Duffel Bag Bandits after they hit the same Sprint Nextel Store in Panorama City two times since November 21, 2012, getting away with nearly $52,000 worth of iPhones and tablets.
“It’s clear this is an inside job,” said Lt. Paul Vernon, commanding officer of the Mission Detective Division. “The burglar wearing the khaki mask has the alarm code and the keys to the safe.”
The duo hit first on November 21, breaking through the roof and shimming down a rope. This is the burglary depicted in the released video. Store management was able to account for the only two keys to the safe where high-end phones and tablets are stored.
“We suspect that someone with prior access to the keys copied them in anticipation of committing this crime,” Lt. Vernon explained. “The suspects were familiar with the security systems too, which is also why they kept their faces covered.”
Detectives believe it was the same burglars who struck the store a second time, early this morning, November 26, 2012. The burglars followed the same MO, breaking through the roof and filling a duffel bag with phones. However, this time, a security guard confronted the pair as they made their getaway. The two suspects escaped but they left behind the duffel bag full of phones and tablets.
In the November 21st burglary, the burglars made off with 59 iPhones and 14 tablets.
“This was a well-planned operation with inside information,” Lt. Vernon added. “The day before Thanksgiving, this store would have plenty of inventory to make for a big pay off, and it was. But, as with any inside job, there will be others who will know who’s behind it.”
The store is located at 8500 Van Nuys Boulevard in Panorama City.
Detectives are asking anyone with information on this crime to call Detective William Cooper, Mission Burglary Unit, at 818-838-9866. Anonymous tips can be called into Crimestoppers at 800-222-TIPS (8477), or by texting 274637 (C-R-I-M-E-S on most keypads) with a cell phone. All text messages should begin with the letters “LAPD.” Online tips may be placed at www.LAPDOnline.org, click on “webtips” and follow the prompts.