Cell phone chop-shops growing in popularity

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by Meredith Yeomans

azfamily.com

Posted on January 5, 2012 at 6:10 PM

Updated Thursday, Jan 5 at 7:01 PM

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Countless cell phones are stolen every day and often times nothing is ever done about it.

That wasn't the case with Stefanie Macias.

“This is how I keep in contact with my world,” she said.

To stay in touch with her world, especially her son, Macias recently bought a new cell phone after the one she had was stolen.

“It was $450 for a new phone so this totally wasn't in the budget but, you know, you gotta have it,” she said.

Macias filed a theft report and after some detective work, Glendale police actually arrested the man who they say stole the phone. In the police report, detectives say Jonathan Woods admitted to the theft.

The report goes on to say that Woods sold Macias' Smartphone for $80 to a phone repair store in the Metrocenter Mall called Everybody Loves Wireless 2, which operates out of a Cricket store.

“They apparently parted it out and are going to sell the parts,” Macias said.

Selling cell phone parts has grown into a big business according to Aaron Baker, editor of the website, PhoneDog.com. He says repair shops use the parts to fix things like broken screens and bad batteries, for cheap.

“You break your display and if you don't have insurance you've got one of two options,” Baker explained. “You can either walk in and pay $500 and $700 for a full retail device or, in the case of the cell phone parts,  you can go and get your screen replaced for anywhere between $80 and $200.”

Because cell phones that are reported stolen can't be reactivated, Baker says they often wind up on websites like Craigslist or are sold to repair shops.

So, are repairs shops providing a way for thieves to make money off your stolen stuff?

We asked the owner of Everybody Loves Wireless 2, who denies knowingly buying stolen cell phones.

But at the same time, he says it's extremely difficult to determine whether the phones he buys are in fact stolen. It’s a claim investigators are looking into.

It’s also a good reminder to always file a police report if your phone is stolen or lost.

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