Security cams help identify suspected cellphone thief

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    TCU Police used security camera footage from the University Recreation Center to identify a man suspected of stealing two students’ iPhones.

    Sgt. Kelly Ham said the suspect, identified as Rian Jaymond King, gained entry to the Rec Center by telling an employee that he left his phone and wallet containing his ID inside the building.

    It took King about six minutes to walk in and out of the Rec Center with security cameras catching him at the entrance and in a hallway.

    Ham sent pictures of King taken from the security camera footage to area police departments. Keller, Grapevine and Colleyville police departments each confirmed the suspect as King.

    Ham said King is suspected of committing similar cellphone theft crimes at gyms in those areas.

    A warrant was issued for King’s arrest on Oct. 1, Ham said.

    Cellphone theft is considered a Class A misdemeanor, Ham said, warranting up to a year in county jail and a maximum fine of $2,000. 

    Last spring semester, there were 17 cellphone thefts on campus, with 11 of those occurring in the Rec Center, according to the TCU Police Daily Crime and Fire Log.

    Ham said King is part of a cellphone-stealing ring that is partly responsible for the stolen phones in the spring. Four people from that ring have already been arrested.

    CeCe Williams, a senior nursing major, said her phone was stolen at the Rec Center last spring when she left it on the bleachers in the basketball gym for a few minutes.

    “My initial reaction was disbelief because I had looked, and my keys were right there,” Williams said. “My wallet was still there, and I had even checked for my license, my debit card and my TCU ID. That was all still there.”

    Williams said her phone was the only thing missing from her possessions.

    She reported the theft to the TCU Police, who then told local pawnshops not to accept the phone because it was stolen. Williams said her phone was never recovered.

    “I’m still upset that, clearly, someone had taken my phone,” she said. “At least it only had a three dollar case on it.”

    Mary Ellen Milam, senior associate director of Campus Recreation, said the thefts have occurred at the Rec Center because people have left their phones sitting on a bleacher or in a cubby.

    “Although we live in a pretty secure bubble we think at TCU, thefts like this can occur,” she said.

    Milam said the bleachers in the basketball gym, where Williams’ phone was taken, are located in one of the few areas of the Rec Center not covered by a security camera.

    She said the Rec Center and TCU Police are working to add cameras in that area to make it more secure.

    Even with the added security, Milam said it is up to individuals to keep their belongings safe.

    “Either don’t bring it with you to start with, or when you’re here, just make sure you secure your valuables,” she said.