Cell Phone Robbery Ring Brought Down After Extensive Investigation


The busy streets of Dinkytown, Minneapolis, Minn.

Josh Klopp, Vice President

Discussions around crime in Dinkytown and the surrounding areas have been swirling more recently than ever. In July, it was reported that crime is up 45% since the pandemic. People have noticed, and their concern has resulted in combined efforts from the police and the University of Minnesota to improve the situation. In recent months, there have been meetings with hundreds of worried parents and students, safety awareness campaigns, improved lighting, and increased crime alerts to students. A frequent occurrence that is commonly discussed is the robbery of cell phones. This has been an issue for a while now, with reports of this specific crime increasing significantly in the last year.

On September 2o, The Hennepin County Attorney’s Office said that 12 people had been charged for running a highly organized cell phone robbery ring in Dinkytown and Downtown Minneapolis. The defendants worked the streets and were known to target intoxicated people leaving bars late at night. Their statement said that they’ve looked into 65 cases regarding this operation dating back to June 2021. Following a groundbreaking and extensive joint investigation by the Minneapolis Police Department and the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension, arrest warrants were issued for all 12 defendants.

A 27-page criminal complaint highlighted the financial and sometimes physical pain brought on to those who were targeted by these roving robbers. The team of 12 deployed several different strategies to separate bar goers from their phones. Some accusations in the complaint described tactics of trickery and intimidation. Injuries resulting from altercations included a broken jaw and bleeding in the brain. Others reported the defendants being friendly and outgoing. The friendly criminals would create conversation with their victims and then request their phone to add their phone number or search themselves on social media. In reality, they were changing passwords, disabling tracking services, and sending money from payment services like Venmo, Zelle, and Coinbase. One example mentioned in the criminal complaint happened outside of Frank and Andrea Pizza in Dinkytown. The victim’s phone was taken from their hands, passed around between multiple team members, and then taken away by a woman. After this man’s phone was taken, multiple transactions made by the robbers cost him over $6,000. This wasn’t even among the top totals of stolen money. Successful transactions made from stolen phones totaled $15,000 for one victim and $24,000 for another. 

In total, $277,000 was withdrawn from 40 or more people’s phones, according to the charges. The value of the stolen phones themselves was reported to be over $25,000. The phones were sold locally and shipped overseas. One defendant known as “The IPhone Man” allegedly sent at least 30 shipments of phones to an address in Minneapolis, and nearly 50 shipments to Hong Kong, prosecutors said. This defendant is Brandon Su. All those charged with felony racketeering and with warrants issued for their arrest are: St. Paul residents Aaron Johnson, 25; Sharlotte Green, 21; Charlie Pryor Jr., 18; Charlie Pryor Sr., 41; Alfonze Stuckey, 23; Sherrod Lamar, 23; Emarion White, 18; and Antonio Green, 19; Minneapolis residents David Mullins, 26; Zhongshuang Su, aka Brandon Su; and Heiron Birts, 26; and Bloomington resident Lawrence Miles, 22. Many of the members have relationships outside of the ring. The Pryors are father and son, and Stuckey is their cousin. The Greens are siblings. Sharlotte Green and Johnson are in a relationship.

Heiron Birts was interviewed several times by police and shined light on the ring’s process and his role in the robberies. Birts explained that the group would all commute into the city together. They would then split up in pursuit of victims. Birts said he was paid anywhere from $60 to $250 to act as a “distractor.” His job would be to create confusion with the victim after their phone was taken, allowing the other members to flee the scene.

These arrests are a huge step toward improving the safety of the Dinkytown area. There is still a long way to go in relieving the sense of security for students and their parents. However, any action made by the authorities to back up their promises is very welcome and should be appreciated.

There is still a long way to go in relieving the sense of security for students and their parents. However, any action made by the authorities to back up their promises is very welcome and should be appreciated