Smartphone Crime Spree Stopped

By Ron Fanfair, Toronto Police Service Published: 1:50 p.m. March 20, 2014
Updated: 8:14 a.m. March 21, 2014

Police may have cracked a major high-end smartphone crime spree targeting mainly young women in Toronto.

iPhones and packaging for iPhones displayed on a table
Some of the Smartphones seized by police had been re-packaged for sale

Following search warrants executed on March 18, nearly 200 Samsung and Apple products and hundreds of accessories were recovered at a downtown retail outlet and other locations.

It’s alleged that a group of people received stolen cellular phones taken from several locations in  14 Division, between December 2013 and March 2014, and then put them up for resale at Apple N Parts at 6373 A Yonge St. and on Kijiji.

Detective Constable Ron Chhinzer said the majority of the phones were stolen from young women attending after-hour clubs in the downtown core.

“One of the most common scenarios we have come across in our investigation is the victim in this matter would be at a nightclub on either Thursday, Friday or Saturday and, sometime during the evening, somebody would steal their phones from their purse or jacket,” he said, at a press conference at 14 Division. “Later on that night, or on their way home, the individual realizes their phone is gone. That seems to be the common factor in all these cases.

“All of the victims, with the exception of one, are females and they are in their late teens or early 20s.”

Media Conference Photos

Chhinzer said the phones were re-sold for prices ranging from $180 to $700.

“That was what they were being advertised for, and the price depended on if they were new, used or refurbished,” he added. “The majority of the advertisements were done on Kijiji, which has been fantastic in aiding in this investigation. They completely understand the scope of it and have been great with helping us out.”

A man in a business suit speaks at a podium
Detective Constable Ron Chhinzer speaks to the media about the thefts of smartphones in the 14 Division community room

Police are seeking the public’s assistance determining the phones’ rightful owners.

“We also believe there are other victims out there who have not reported thefts for various reasons,” said Detective Joseph Matys. “We are asking those individuals to come forward and contact 14 Division. Members of the public who have a copy of their mobile phone contract which lists the IMEI (International Mobile Station Equipment) number and the mobile phone box which also has an IMEI number on it or a screen saver should contact us.”

Investigators can be reached at 416-808-1406.

People can also go the police station at  350 Dovercourt Rd. or contact police through Crime Stoppers anonymously at 416−222−TIPS (8477), online at  222tips.com, text TOR and your message to CRIMES (274637), or Leave A Tip on Facebook.

Araz Behnood, 31; Cina Barazandeh-Taghizadeh, 21; and Sina Ghojehbiglou, 19, of Thornhill; along with and Masoud Touri, 45, of Toronto, face several charges, including possession of property obtained by crime for the purpose of trafficking. Eslaminejad Kavous, 59, of Toronto, has been charged with possession of property obtained by crime.

Behnood owned the retail outlet, while the co-accused were employees or associates.


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