2 arrested in connection with rash of phone, credit card thefts

Bar surveillance video, images aid investigation, police say
2 arrested in connection with rash of phone, credit card thefts
Angelena Birt, Rodney Harris

Police believe they have a pair of suspects in custody responsible for a rash of downtown bar thefts in which smart phones, credit cards, wallets and purses were taken earlier this summer.

Following an investigation by the Madison Police Department, a man and a woman have been charged with several counts, including theft, specifically for taking two smart phones from State Street Brats, 603 State St., in the early morning hours of July 21.

Rodney M. Harris Jr., 26, and Angelena R. Birt, 21, both of Madison, were charged with several counts each, including theft, Madison police said in a news release Wednesday.

Police said one of the suspects told a Madison police detective that it was easy to steal valuables people carry.

“You can do it really fast, right in front of people and they don’t even know it,” said the suspect quoted in a recently filed criminal complaint, Madison police said.

On July 21, a 23-year-old Madison man told police his phone was taken out of his back pocket. Early that morning, a 23-year-old Madison woman told officers a man grabbed at her wristlet like he wanted to dance. After she turned him down, she realized the wristlet had been unzipped and her new smart phone and a credit card were missing.

Police said bar surveillance video and images captured at a gas station where suspects attempted to use the stolen credit card helped identify the suspects.

According to police, one suspect said several thieves worked in concert with one another taking “more than 50 credit cards and wallets.” The defendant said they typically sold stolen phones for $20 each.

Investigators are continuing to review cases, looking to arrest more suspects, police said.