The iPhone 5 is one of the year's most highly anticipated devices, and some thieves are trying to get their hands on them any way they can.
Investigators across the country are comparing notes as a group of crooks have broken into at least four Best Buy stores, including here in Middle Tennessee, targeting the must-have gadget.
Surveillance video from inside the Best Buy at 2615 Medical Center Parkway in Murfreesboro shows a vehicle ramming into the store's loading dock door before eight burglars rush into the store.
The thieves are also captured on video jumping onto a counter, pulling down a locked metal security cage and using a bolt cutter to cut the lock.
They apparently knew what they wanted - Apple iPhone 5s - but the shipment had not arrived at this store, so they settled for some older iPhones, iPads and other electronics, according to police.
In total, they stole more than $100,000 worth of merchandise, and the heist took just more than three minutes.
"Everything in this case just screams it was a well-organized effort that took a lot of planning," said Sgt. Kyle Evans, Murfreesboro police spokesman.
The store manager was sitting in the front parking lot waiting on another employee to arrive and had no idea the store was being burglarized until he got a call from the alarm company. He drove around back to the dock area and saw the garage door had been smashed.
Police said there have been similar break-ins at Best Buy stores across the country, including one in Knoxville, and others in Florida and California.
"At some of the other stores that were hit in a similar fashion, the target was the newly released iPhone 5," Evans said.
Investigators said the crooks also stole three cars and used one of them to crash into the store in the Murfreesboro burglary.
Ashley Nelson had just bought her car three days ago, and it was the one the thieves used to crash into the door.
It still has white paint on the back bumper, and she said police found latex gloves and ski masks left inside.
"I was mad as hell, for one," Nelson said. "I was very disrespected, and my feelings were hurt more than anything."
Her neighbor's car was also stolen from the same apartment complex at 810 E. Clark Blvd. The steering columns on all the cars were broken and the vehicles were hot-wired.
"I was confused," victim Christy Harrison said. "I was like, 'oh my God! Where's my car?' So I went into the house and called the police."
All three cars were later ditched at an apartment complex at 2778 Rideout Lane, off Saint Andrews Drive in Murfreesboro. The motors were left running, and the doors were sitting open.
Now, police and store officials are hoping to catch the crooks before they are able to strike again.
"We cooperate with authorities when theft takes place in our stores, via our store and loss prevention management and procedures in every U.S. store," said Kelly Groehler, Best Buy Director of External Relations, in a statement.
I you have any information that would be helpful in tracking down these iPhone 5 bandits, call Crimestoppers at 893-STOP (7867), or detectives at 893-2717.
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