Three men face time in federal prison for a two-month smash-and-grab robbery spree of over 50 cell phone stores throughout Southern California.
Tony Tyron Lee Stewart, 22, of Highland, has been sentenced to five years in federal prison for committing 52 smash-and-grab robberies of T-Mobile and AT&T stores. He’s been ordered to pay a restitution fee of $333,122.
Stewart was assisted by two other men, Rayford Newsome, 21, of Compton and Jerome Gregory Belser, 21, of San Bernardino, according to the U.S. District Attorney’s Office.
The group of thieves targeted 52 cell phone stores across multiple counties including Los Angeles, Orange, Ventura, San Bernardino and Kern from November 2021 to January 2022.
On Jan. 15, the men robbed multiple T-Mobile stores in Long Beach, Carson, Inglewood, Encino and Camarillo, officials said.
Wearing ski masks, the suspects entered the stores and used hammers to smash display cases while threatening employees and customers. Merchandise taken from the stores include cell phones, watches and other electronic devices.
The men fled the stores and hopped into a getaway car, which police spotted and began pursuing. When officers tried pulling them over, they refused to stop, leading police on a pursuit through a North Hollywood neighborhood.
The suspects were eventually stopped and taken into custody.
Authorities say in total, the men stole about $293,444 worth of merchandise while causing approximately $46,376 in damage to the stores.
Stewart has been sentenced to five years in prison and ordered to pay a restitution fee of $333,122. Both Newsome and Belser have pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to interfere with commerce by robbery.
Belserhas been sentenced to 70 months in federal prison. Newsome’s sentencing hearing is scheduled for Jan. 5, 2023, and if convicted, could face up to 20 years in federal prison.