Cellphone store owners up security after robberies

HOUSTON - Cellphone store owners said Thursday that they feel that their lives are increasingly at risk.

Gunmen have robbed about 20 stores in Houston since the first of the year. Store owners said the robberies are becoming more and more violent.

After a decade in the cellphone store business, Sunny Mohammed said he is applying for a permit to carry a gun. His store was robbed last week.

"Sunday it happened here, Monday it happened on Almeda," Mohammed said. "Another robbery happened 30 minutes after that – killed a guy at the Boost mobile store on Telephone. If my co-workers hear it, they don't even want to come to work."

Mohammed said the combination of an increase in frequency and an increase in violence has him scared for his life.

"They don't care if they kill somebody," he said.

Mohammed said that in addition to getting a gun, he's getting better security cameras and additional panic alarm buttons in his stores.

"It seems we may have a spike in these type of robberies," Houston Police Chief Charles McClelland said.

McClelland said HPD is forming a special task force to go after cellphone store robbers.

"We have the FBI working with us to solve some of these crimes," McClelland said.

McClelland said cellphone store owners can do some things to deter crimes, like install high-quality cameras inside and outside of their stores.

Houston police said about 110 cellphone stores were robbed in 2012.

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