High-tech gadgets snatched from the hands of Metro riders in recent years might have passed through the hands of kiosk operators at popular local malls, authorities said Friday in announcing the indictments of three men accused of trafficking stolen smartphones.
The indictments come as police are combating a surge in thefts and robberies on the Metro rail and bus systems.
Authorities said the indictments were the result of a lengthy undercover operation by local police and the FBI that started shortly after two robbers were arrested in Metro stations in early 2010. The thieves, who had snatched iPhones from riders’ hands, separately told police that kiosk operators at Pentagon City mall were fencing stolen smartphones, authorities said.
Undercover Arlington County police were soon conducting a sting operation at the mall in which they sold and brokered sales of supposedly stolen smartphones to the kiosk clerks.
Two of the clerks — brothers — were indicted last week by a federal grand jury in Alexandria on charges of conspiracy, purchasing stolen goods and receiving stolen goods. Farid Ahmad 33, and Naeem Ahmad, 31, of Woodbridge face up to 25 years in prison if convicted of all charges.