Police arrest 4 in iPhone robberies

Four teenagers accused of going on a robbery spree early Saturday in the Bywater, Marigny and the French Quarter areas of New Orleans were arrested while trying to sell a stolen cellphone.

Police suspect the teens may be responsible for additional holdups in other parts of the city.

The suspects — John Jerome, 18; Anthony McClendon, 17, and their two 15-year-old accomplices — were picked up at a convenience-type store in the 7900 block of Chef Menteur Highway while trying to sell a stolen iPhone after selling another stolen iPhone at the same store earlier Saturday morning, police spokeswoman Remi Braden said.

Detectives began looking for the teens after victims who were robbed in the 1500 block of Pauger Street gave them detailed descriptions of the robbers and their getaway car, a black Toyota Tacoma, which had been reported stolen in the 5th District, Braden said.

The descriptions given by the victims matched ones given earlier that night from other robbery victims in the 700 block of Marigny, 3000 block of Chartres Street and Dauphine Street, near Clouet Street.

The investigation led detectives to the store on Chef Menteur, where they told the employees that the iPhone they bought earlier in the night was stolen and recovered the phone.

While the detectives interviewed victims, an employee from the store on Chef Menteur called detectives and said the teens were back at the store, trying to sell another iPhone.

Detectives and police officers from the 7th District arrived at the store and arrested three teens. The fourth teen fled, but police caught up to him a short time later.

McClendon had a gun allegedly used in the robberies on him at the time of his arrest, Braden said.

Police did not provide addresses of Jerome and McClendon, but all four teens were booked with the Pauger armed robbery and other counts will be determined after further investigation, Braden said.

Police Chief Ronal Serpas praised city residents for helping police in their investigation of the robberies that led to the arrests of the four suspects, calling residents’ assistance “invaluable.”

“The victims in these cases gave very detailed descriptions of the gunmen, which helped the cases tremendously,” Serpas said. “And we very much appreciate the store employees on Chef who called NOPD when the alleged robbers returned.”

A crime lab technician was able to lift several fingerprints from the stolen vehicle that was recovered outside the convenience store, as well as from a .40-caliber handgun, a clip, eight additional cartridges, another stolen iPhone and cash.