HPD creates task force to crack down on cell phone store robberies

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by Shern-Min Chow / KHOU 11 NEWS

khou.com

Posted on February 22, 2013 at 12:09 AM

HOUSTON -- The Houston Police Department has announced a new task force to fight the dramatic increase in cell phone store robberies.

Houston police says the task force “formalizes” an existing relationship to share information between local and federal authorities.

Robberies at cell phone stores have become an all-too-familiar scene thanks to surveillance cameras.

On Monday, 62-year-old Hamid Warrich lost his life at his Boost Mobile store in the 5200 block of Telephone Road in southeast Houston.

“We went to the mosque today and my mom was just looking at him,” said Warrich’s stepson, Victor Toscano, the day after the shooting. “It was devastating to see her like that.”

At about the same time, the Houston police chief announced a new task force dealing with the increase in cell phone store robberies.

In 2011, Houston had 49 robberies; the next year the number more than doubled to 111. At the point in 2013, so far the robberies are keeping pace with last year.

“I hope they strike fear on the people that want to rob,” said Toscano in to the task force.

A clerk at another Boost Mobile store on Telephone Road feels the same way. He didn’t want to be identified because he was also robbed at gunpoint two weeks ago.

“He hopped over the countertop… the gun was in his hand,” the clerk said.

The four-foot tall counter and security cameras were not deterrents.

“They really don’t care. This guy had no mask whatsoever,” said the clerk. “It’s a family business. My mother stays here some times and it worries me when she’s here by herself.”

Hamid Warrich’s wife survived the attack that took her husband’s life.

Toscano says his mother is taking care of other family business. She left Thursday afternoon to take Warrich’s body to Pakistan to bury him by his family.

Toscano says they will eventually reopen the store. He also plans to put in a magnetic lock, so every customer will have to be buzzed into the business.

The suspect who shot and killed Warrich is still on the loose. Anyone with information on the case should call Crime Stoppers of Houston at 713-222-TIPS.

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