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Tigard police stop off-the-hook iPhone bandits


SUBMITTED PHOTO - Tens of thousands of dollars worth of Apple iPhones were purchased using fraudulent gift cards at Bridgeport Village and Washington Square mall, according to Tigard Police.Tigard police say they have stopped an organized retail crime ring that stole more than three-quarters of a million dollars’ worth of Apple iPhones bound for the black market in Asia.

According to Tigard police, investigators with the department’s commercial crimes unit were at Washington Square mall on Dec. 4 investigating organized retail crimes when detectives spotted a man with a large stack of gift cards making purchases at the Apple Store, 9530 S.W. Washington Square Road.

Detectives said that large stacks of gift cards are a likely sign of criminal activity and followed the man to his car, where they said his was filled with Apple shopping bags.

The man drove away and was stopped by police on Highway 217.

Police said that detectives seized more than 470 Apple iPhones from the car, worth more than $290,000, along with hundreds of gift cards worth more than $585,000.

No arrests have been made in the case, said Tigard police spokesman Jim Wolf. The man and another alleged accomplice are working with police in the investigation to find more people involved in the crime ring.

The alleged thieves directed Tigard detectives to a nearby Fed Ex store, where police siezed dozens of boxes of iPhones bound for Hong Kong.

Wolf called the work “complex” and said that all of the phones were likely bound for Hong Kong.

The purchases were made at Apple Stores at Washington Square mall in Tigard and Bridgeport Village in Tualatin, Wolf said. Police believe the purchases were linked to counterfeit credit cards circulating in Southern California.