The robbery at Simply Mac is just the latest in a series of armed robberies at cell phone stores in the stateline.

From Cherry Valley, to Rockford, even Rockton- several have been hit since the summer.

We spoke with the Cherry Valley Police Chief who says criminals target cell phone stores because they’re easy targets.

“Well, it’s iPhones, watches, laptops, things of that nature.”

Chief Larry Neville of the Cherry Valley Police Department speaking about a rash of recent cell phone store robberies.

“They are a target I think because of the easy access that most of them have,” said Neville. “They’re generally on the outside of malls, in strip malls, so they’re a little easier target than they would be if they were actually in a mall complex where it’s harder to get out.”

He says targeting cell phone stores also  benefits criminals trying to make a quick dollar.

“There’s also a demand, obviously for electronics, cell phone, laptops, and things of that nature. And so I think it makes them a little more of a favorable target for individuals that have the outlet or source for disposing of those items.”

The Simply Mac store at Cherryvale Mall was robbed earlier Friday around 11, but it was also hit back on December 17th.

Rockford cell phone stores dealt with several robberies too this past summer.

Sprint’s location on west Riverside was robbed last June.

Then, its State Street shop was robbed in December.

The U.S. Cellular store on Rockton Road in Rockton was also robbed in August.

In each case, armed gunmen forcing employees into the back of the store, then stealing large amounts of merchandise.

Chief Neville says all these violent crimes have all been relatively similar, and could be tied together.

They usually consist of a group of 4-5 armed individuals who raid the stores, who seem to know what they want, grab it, and leave.
“In my opinion, I believe that it’s a group,” said Chief Neville. “But obviously we’re trying to confirm that and that’s why we asked for the help of the FBI to try to make that determination.”

Chief Neville said several agencies have teamed up with the FBI and are investigating this incident as part of a larger theft ring that spans across multiple stores, cities, and states.