As Chip Buck told police, the plan was simple: drive around until he and his partner found a chance to steal a cellphone, get away before the police showed up and sell the items for cash.
For a few weeks, their routine worked until Delray Beach Police finally nabbed the men Tuesday night.
The arrests ended a three-week string of robberies in which Buck, 25, of Delray Beach, and William A. Pino, 26, of Trappe, Pa., allegedly stole several iPhones in southern Palm Beach County, according to multiple Delray Beach and Boca Raton police reports.
The reports give the following account:
On Monday, Delray Beach police responded to a robbery at the DIG restaurant in the 700 block of East Atlantic Avenue. A 29-year-old woman told officers a white man with tattoos and camouflage shorts snatched her iPhone while she was sitting outside with a friend and escaped in a four-door gray Acura.
The next day, Boynton Beach police alerted officers to be on the lookout for the man from Monday’s alleged robbery and for the car, which police said had a Pennsylvania license tag.
An hour later, a Delray Beach officer pulled over a car in the 900 block of East Atlantic Avenue — with Pino and Buck inside — that matched the description.
Officers noticed Buck fit the description from Monday’s robbery and arrested him. They also searched the car and found a a pair of camouflage shorts and a rubber iPhone case, which belonged to a woman who reported her phone stolen Monday.
In the center console, officers also found a cellphone that was reported stolen Sunday from a Lake Worth man.
After his arrest, Buck told police he stole the iPhone from the woman Monday and sold it to a man named “Rick” for $120.
During an interview with Buck, detectives told him they were investigating a series of robberies that happened in Boca Raton and Delray Beach.
They asked Buck if he knew anything about them. He told officers he worked with Pino in the thefts.
Buck said that on April 23, May 5 and May 7, he and Pino drove to Boca Raton to find potential targets. He said on those days, Pino stole several iPhones from women who were sitting outside restaurants.
After the thefts, Buck said, the men would shut off the phones and sell them to “Rick.”
They would then use the money to buy drugs, adding they got the idea from an acquaintance while they were in rehab together.
Buck also mentioned an incident that happened Sunday when Pino allegedly stole a 2005 Mercedes-Benz ML 350 as well as an iPhone, an iPod and a wallet inside the vehicle. Buck recalled Pino saying he would hide the car keys in a bush and return later to retrieve the car once he found a buyer.
Using Buck’s statements, detectives arrested Pino on charges of grand theft auto and two counts of grand theft. Buck was also charged with dealing in stolen property, robbery by sudden snatching and larceny.
On Tuesday night, officers booked Buck and Pino into the Palm Beach County Jail, where they remained Thursday in lieu of $26,000 and $20,000 bails, respectively, according to the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office.