Thief steals useless, easily traceable devices

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Moses Lake Police Department/courtesy photo The thief who broke into the AT&T store early Wednesday morning will find that their loot is effectively worthless, staff said.

MOSES LAKE — A thief who broke into the AT&T retail store on South Pioneer Way in the wee hours of Wednesday morning stole several phones and tablets that usually retail for hundreds of dollars each and had been on display.

But besides having their picture taken by surveillance cameras, the thief may be in for a number of nasty surprises when they go to inspect their ill-gotten goods, a staff member said Wednesday. The store’s display devices are set to a demo mode with severely limited functionality, cannot be reset to consumer settings, and are easily traceable, staff said.

Police initially responded to an alarm at the AT&T location just after 3 a.m. Wednesday, and arrived to find that an unknown subject had thrown a rock through the glass front door in order to gain access. The thief then reportedly snatched several devices off their displays before fleeing the scene.

Though the front door was smashed just a number of hours previous, there was no sign of the break-in by afternoon, as the store’s staff quickly cleaned up the debris and replaced the glass door.

Staff noted that even among the devices on display, which all come with the same limits on functionality and anti-theft software, the thief appeared to be unaware of the retail value of what they were stealing. Though the devices taken were worth hundreds of dollars in their consumer form, others that were left behind would have been worth thousands, at least until a buyer discovered their limitations.

Further, staff mused, if the thief had stolen accessories from the store’s walls instead of display devices, the haul might have had some sizable black market value. Instead, they said, the stolen merchandise would only have value if the thief sold them to an unwitting buyer, and only if the police don’t trace them down first.

Emry Dinman can be reached via email at edinman@columbiabasinherald.com.

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