JACKSONVILLE BEACH, Fla. -- Three people are in custody after allegedly stealing around 70 cell phones from people over a period of several months.
Between June and October, Jacksonville Beach Police said 36-year-old Roberto Echevarria, 25-year-old Jose Carrasco-Velazquez and 41-year-old Maria Echevarria-Martinez stole about 70 cell phones. None of the three suspects are from Jacksonville.
"There's a chance they've been doing this in other jurisdictions, the investigators are looking at that as well," Sgt. Crumley said.
Sgt. Thomas Crumley with the Jacksonville Beach Police Department said their crime spree ended early Saturday morning, when a woman told police she caught one of the suspects, Echevarria, reaching inside her purse and trying to steal the items at The Ritz bar.
Police said they found eight recently stolen cell phones inside Carrasco-Velazquez's black BMW. All three suspects have been arrested on numerous charges relating to the theft of cell phones.
The three suspects match the description of three people who entered an Atlantic Boulevard Walmart earlier in October, where a stolen credit card was used to fraudulently purchase more than $370 worth of merchandise, police said.
Authorities said the three had a routine: They would enter a bar and steal between eight and 15 cell phones on one weekend day alone. The phones were snatched from purses and back pockets.
"It definitely seems like they took advantage of the ability of the bars to have crowded areas, where they were working in tight, confined spaces, and counting on people being distracted," Sgt. Crumley said.
Jacksonville Beach Police advise people not to leave cell phones hanging out of your back pocket and not to leave purses open.