CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Charlotte-Mecklenburg police believe they have solved a string of cell phone store break-ins.
Tuesday afternoon investigators announced the arrest of four suspects: Qdarius Hamer, 20, Jeremy Thrasher, 16, Jamie Lewis, 18, and 31-year-old Melissa Arrington on numerous burglary charges.
"We began to see a trend with a specific crew. We were noticing certain things that were similar in different cases," said Lt. Brian Sanders.
Sanders linked the suspects to six break-ins: the Cricket and T-Mobile stores in the 9000 block of Albemarle Road, the AT&T and Verizon stores in the 7100 block of Independence, the Sprint store in the 5500 block of Ballantyne Commons and T-Mobile on Sardis Road.
"To have people literally come through and take something in a few seconds that you have worked years to accomplish is really devastating," said the owner of the Cricket Store.
She didn't want to be identified but told us as a small business owner, this crime really hurt.
"The reality of it is you have increased insurance costs. You have to replace everything. There is a lot more that goes into it and it sets you back," she said.
The break-ins occurred between June 4 and July 10. The suspects have also been linked to a couple of similar burglaries in York County.
Investigators say the suspects use a rock or brick to smash a window or glass door, and are in and out of a store in 30 seconds to one minute.
Despite the arrest of this crew police don't think this trend is coming to an end anytime soon and say that cell phone store owners need to make their businesses harder targets.
"There are grates they can slide back and forth. They don't have to put up those ugly permanent bars," said the lieutenant.
He also urged that inventories be locked up after closing because often thieves will take floor samples.