Prosecutors: 'Prolific' thief has stolen nearly $75K worth of cellphones

RENTON, Wash. — A man who prosecutors are calling a “prolific” cellphone thief has participated in at least 10 thefts from cellphone stores in King County and has stolen nearly $75,000 worth of devices, according to court documents.

The most recent charge against 18-year-old Laron Johnson was filed Monday for a theft at a Renton T-Mobile store last year.

Documents say that in addition to that case, Johnson has five pending cases in King County for theft, robbery, burglary and organized retail theft.

Prosecutors said in each case involving the theft of cellphones, a common method is used in which Johnson, sometimes with an accomplice, enters a cellular store, breaks display phones off of security lanyards and then runs away.

Documents say Johnson has a history of struggling with employees and in a prior case, assaulted one during a theft.

In the Renton case, three display phones were stolen from a T-Mobile store. The manager called police and tracked one phone to a home nearby.

Officers said when they arrived at the home, a man matching the description of the suspect came walking out of the house. He was verbally identified as Johnson and then identified by the manager of the T-Mobile store, according to authorities.

He was then placed into police custody.

Police reports say Johnson is a suspect in cellphone thefts in Seattle, Kent and Federal Way.