Man arrested for robbing 6 cell phone stores in Austin
AUSTIN, Texas - A man was arrested in connection to several robberies at cell phone stores in Austin, the Austin Police Department (APD) said.
Police said on Jan. 30, around 6:25 p.m., 50-year-old Gregory Sterling entered Cricket Wireless and acted like a customer. Sterling then pulled out a gun and forced an employee to the ground. Sterling stood over the victim and pressed the gun's muzzle to her head while using her key to unlock the cash registers. Sterling took the cash and left the area.
Over the following days, Sterling continued a crime spree in the same manner for five more incidents. All the aggravated robberies occurred during closing time, as he pretended to be interested in buying a phone.
In three of the cases, he pistol-whipped the employee. In two of them, he dragged the employee by their hair. In all the cases, Sterling took either cell phones, cash, or both before leaving the area.
Detectives distributed information to patrol officers to be on the lookout and contacted several stores in the area. Detectives gathered surveillance video from each location and narrowed down a list of places where Sterling may live.
During the last robbery, Sterling took a phone with GPS tracking capabilities, allowing investigators to review the device's movement after the crime. Robbery detectives worked closely with Violent Crimes Taskforce (VCTF) members who conducted mobile surveillance in Sterling's last location. Detectives could also hear Sterling's voice in one of the surveillance videos where he gave the name of a known relative.
Detectives found his social media profile and compared his appearance to the surveillance video. Sterling was seen in photographs wearing several pieces of clothing that matched the unique clothing seen in surveillance footage.
On March 8, VCTF received updated pings of the stolen devices and tracked them to a vehicle. Officers stopped the vehicle, and Sterling was identified as a passenger. Several pieces of evidence from the six robberies were located in the vehicle and Sterling's residence, leading to his arrest.
Sterling has a prior record. He's charged with six counts of Aggravated Robbery with a Deadly Weapon.
Sterling is currently in Travis County Jail.
Anyone with any information should contact APD's Robbery unit at 512-974-5092. You may submit your tip anonymously through the Capital Area Crime Stoppers Program by visiting austincrimestoppers.org or calling 512-472-8477. A reward of up to $1,000 may be available for any information that leads to an arrest.