Pearl District shop owners warn each other about cell phone thefts

PORTLAND, Ore. - Shop owners in the Pearl District are warning each other about thieves who are stealing cell phones from employees.

The victims say the thefts are happening while the workers are helping customers in the stores.

Employees say the thefts appear to be a two-person operation. In some cases, one of the thieves pretends to be a customer to distract the employee.

At Leanna's NYC Boutique one of the crooks asked for help on one side of the store while his accomplice swiped a cell phone across the room.

"They get one person away from the counter asking specific questions like in the back corner, and once they're back there the other one steals the phone," said Taylor De Bay, who had her phone stolen. "I'm frustrated and I'm not happy about it."

De Bay said she had tried calling the phone but it's turned off. She wants the phone back because she has pictures of her kids on the device.

Shop owners are calling each other to spread the word about the thefts, but in some cases it's too late. One shop owner got a call and then noticed her phone was already gone.