In September, a pair of thieves had run off with a bunch of Apple watches on display in an Eagan T-Mobile store. The store gave law enforcement its surveillance footage, but no other leads.
Then an investigator noticed a pattern. In a short span of time, a whole bunch of stores in the metro area had experienced copycat thefts, each featuring one or two people matching the same description.
Just three days before the Eagan store was hit, four Apple watches were snatched from a T-Mobile in Golden Valley. Four days before that, four watches disappeared from a store in Maple Grove. Before that, it was Minnetonka, Brooklyn Center, St. Louis Park, and Roseville – always a handful Apple watches at a time. The value of the loot taken between August and mid-October totaled nearly $20,000.
Officers compared the footage to some stills they had on file. According to a complaint filed in Dakota County District Court on Friday, they determined one perpetrator was Hamza Hussein Abdalla, a 20-year-old man who lives in St. Paul.
After doing a little digging, they found the missing Apple watches for sale online. According to the complaint, the gadgets had been posted to Abdalla’s mom’s Facebook page.
This, apparently, was news to her. She told officers she hadn’t sold anything on her Facebook account, but that her son did have access to it through her phone, according to the complaint. She briefly met with law enforcement while they were digging through Abdalla’s residence, looking for anything that might connect him to the footage. (They did find a few articles of clothing that matched.)
When cops showed Abdalla's mom stills from the video, she said she recognized the second suspect as a man named “Shamarke.” Officers determined it might have been 20-year-old Shamarke Ali Abdi, a Facebook friend of Abdalla’s who lives in Minneapolis.
Later, while held in Hennepin County Jail for other, unrelated offenses, Abdalla would admit to having robbed the T-Mobile stores, according to the complaint. He also confirmed his sometimes accomplice had been Abdi. The complaint says he also copped to using his mom’s Facebook account to sell the goods.
Abdalla is charged with two counts of felony theft, punishable by up to 10 years in prison and/or a $20,000 fine, while Abdi faces one charge of the same offense.