herald

Monday 20 August 2018

Shopkeeper offered me €250 cash for iPhone -- no questions asked

I WITNESSED firsthand the lucrative industry in stolen iPhones that has sprung up around Dublin city centre -- and it couldn't be easier.

As I found a number of city shops are offering up to €250 cash to anyone offering an iPhone - no questions asked.

Despite a garda clampdown in the city centre on mobile phone thieves, I discovered many outlets eager to hand over cash for our iPhones.

Some shops even tried to press ahead with the sale of the iPhone despite being aware that it may have been stolen.

Haggle

Gardai described this week how women are targeted by thieves on bikes who whip their phones. Supt Frank Clerkin says 12 shops are known to deal in the 'hot' phones.

I couldn't believe how the shops couldn't care less when I walked in off the street offering an iPhone 4.

In one shop, I was offered €250 cash-in-hand and told it was "not important" where I got it.

Other shops directly asked what price I wanted for the phone and was willing to haggle with me for minutes while other customers were just metres away.

Today TDs expressed alarm at our investigation and called for greater powers to be given to gardai to crack down on shops that knowingly handle stolen goods, including iPhones and other smartphones.

Dublin Central TD Maureen O'Sullivan told the Herald that the findings are "extremely worrying".

"This is something I've been aware of for quite some time but the fact it is so easily done is worrying," said the Independent TD.

"It's very good to hear that gardai are addressing the spate of iPhone theft in the city, but it's not surprising that it's happening when people are able to sell them for hundreds of euro.

"Clearly there are loopholes that allow these shops to handle stolen goods so there is major scope for this problem to be addressed."

And Dublin North Central TD Finian McGrath said the actions of the shops were "fuelling" the problem.

"If shops are accepting stolen goods, this needs to be taken very seriously," he said.

"People who have been victims of these crimes have been left extremely distressed, let alone out of pocket," he added.

"I'm calling on the Minister for Justice to hit this issue on the head before it spirals out of control," he added.



Memories

Gardai revealed this week that unscrupulous store owners are buying the newly stolen handsets off street thieves, wiping the phone memories and selling them on.

Garda Supt Frank Clerkin, of Store Street Garda Station, said gardai have identified 12 shops on the northside of the city but did not name the premises.

Extra gardai are now being deployed in Dublin's business districts in response to the spate of iPhone thefts in the capital.

hnews@herald.ie

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