TAMPA (FOX 13) - At least two Tampa businesses have been targeted in the last month by thieves in search of Hoverboards. Tampa police are warning stores to be careful how they display the hot holiday item.
Employees at 4 Cell Fix, 4803 W Hillsborough Ave, spent Friday working to repair a shattered glass window in front of the tech store. Around 2 a.m. Wednesday, a male suspect broke into the business and stole nearly 40 new and used cellphones, tablets, and an estimated six Hoverboards.
"It's not fair. It's Christmas time. He literally came in like the Grinch, took our stuff, and there was stuff even on layaway for other people," said Alext Torribio, an employee whose personal, customized Hoverboard was also stolen during the burglary.
Employees said they believe the store may have been targeted specifically for the Hoverboards on sale. The motorized skateboard has been ranked the most popular Christmas item of 2015.
"This is one of the items everybody wants for Christmas," said Eddy Dormevil. "Everybody's on Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube riding around."
Based on surveillance video, Cell Fix employees said they are concerned the suspect may have visited the store prior to the theft. The man, whose face is covered, can be seen walking directly to a back room where the boards were stored.
Tampa police want to warn business owners to be careful where they keep the hot gadget after hours.
"Obviously, businesses want to display the popular items they have, but there are extra steps they can take," said Andrea Davis, spokesperson for the Tampa Police Department. "When the business closes, [put] those items someplace else, so that they're not out in front of the window. Maybe locked up under a case."
Tampa police are not calling recent Hoverboard thefts a "trend," although another business was also targeted.
Crispy Clean Cuts, 2425 S Dale Mabry, reported a man pretending to buy several Hoverboards, but when the owner presented the items, the suspect grabbed several boxes and ran out of the barber shop.
Anyone buying a Hoverboard online this holiday season should look for red flags, such as:
- Hoverboards sold dramatically cheaper than retail value
- Hoverboards sold without a box or a charger
Police recommend anyone meeting with someone from Craigslist to buy a Hoverboard should meet at a secure location, such as one of the Tampa Police Departments. In addition, residents should not sit Hoverboard or any electronics boxes outside of their home after the holidays to avoid their home becoming a target for thieves.