“On a cloudy afternoon in the Tenderloin district, a man in a hooded sweatshirt walks slowly along Market Street, stopping to engage people he encounters along the way,” Gerry Smith reports for The Huffington Post. “He offers a peek at the wares inside the backpack slung over his shoulder: Three new iPhones, each still sealed in a white box affixed with Apple’s logo. He stole these phones, he tells potential customers, before asking them to make an offer.”
“He walks past a check-cashing shop and a boarded-up pharmacy until he attracts an interested buyer. But before the deal is done, another man dashes out of a nearby donut shop and mumbles a warning to the would-be buyer in Spanish,” Smith reports. “He suspects the seller is a cop. Suddenly nervous, the buyer walks away.”
Smith reports, “The man in the hoodie is indeed a policeman: Officer Tom Lee is playing the role of decoy in a sting operation targeting buyers of stolen iPhones… FLee and his team are part of a special task force established three years ago to combat phone thefts here, mirroring similar undercover teams set up in New York and Washington D.C… For Lee and his partners, shutting down this marketplace has become their primary objective. Initially, the undercover unit focused on catching people stealing phones. Officers rode city trains and buses while appearing to carelessly text, hoping to attract thieves. But hardly anyone took the bait. Now, the task force is pursuing a new strategy: arresting buyers. The team aims to poison the market with fear and distrust, depriving would-be sellers of a place to unload their stolen merchandise.”
Read more in the full article here.