Cell store employees outsmart alleged thieves out of $30k of phones

NORMAN, Okla. - Two robbery suspects were arrested after their victim's quick thinking led police straight to them.

Steven Bivins and Sharod Brown of Texas were arrested and charged with robbery by force or fear, assault while masked, and planning to perform an act of violence.

It happened at about 7:30 p.m. at the T-Mobile store on 12th Avenue NE. The entire thing was caught on the store's surveillance video.

Police said two masked walked into the store and started demanding items.

"Brandished a small baseball bat and began threatening the employees at the store," Norman Police Department public information officer Sarah Jensen said.

Brown and Bivins allegedly rounded up the two young employees, forced them into a back room in the store, and ordered them to fill a garbage bag with the store's priciest merchandise.

"They placed approximately 30 Apple and Samsung cell phones into this trash bag," Jensen said. Altogether worth nearly $30,000.

According to court documents, before the two left, they also allegedly took one of the employees' I.D.s, threatening to "'Come back and get [him]' if he reported the incident to police.

A terrifying order the young employees didn't take to heart.

"Those employees did the right thing absolutely by contacting authorities," Jensen said.

They immediately called 911, gave police a description of the two, as well as the key to finding them quickly.

"The thing that the suspects did not know is that the employees put in one cell phone that had a GPS tracker on it," Jensen said.

Officers used the GPS tracker to lead them straight to Brown and Bivins, who allegedly still had the phones and the bat in their car.

"Definitely a great forethought by those employees in that high-stress time to think to put that device in there so that we had that information in real time," Jensen said.

T-Mobile employees said even if the two had gotten away with the phones, they would have been reported stolen and rendered useless to anyone who had them.