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Thief may have posed as a walker

Medford police suspect that whoever made off with $27,000 worth of cell phones, a computer and cash from a kiosk in the Rogue Valley Mall Sunday might have slipped in with people strolling the mall for exercise.

The mall was opened for exercisers at 6 a.m. Sunday, before any stores were open, Medford police Detective Sgt. Mike Budreau said.

Investigators think the thief or thieves who pried open the cabinets at the Diamond Wireless kiosk selling cellular phones and Verizon Wireless products could have come in at that time. They also could have eluded security to stay in the mall overnight and slipped out with their haul in the morning, Budreau said.

"We're hoping that somebody saw them there," he said, noting that the thieves might have looked like they had legitimate business preparing the kiosk to open later.

Mall walkers might not have noticed anything out of the ordinary at the time, but now that they know about the crime, details they saw could prove useful, he explained.

An employee opening the kiosk at 10:30 a.m. Sunday discovered the theft of 84 phones, including models from Motorola, LG, Samsung and BlackBerry. Wireless cards, a laptop and an undisclosed amount of cash also were reported missing, police said.

Investigators are looking into tips that cell-phone retailers in the mall in Eugene were targeted in similar thefts in recent weeks. Budreau said they hadn't confirmed details of such thefts elsewhere, but were considering the possibility that they could be related.

A spokesperson for the Eugene Police Department didn't return a call on Monday.

Investigators ask anyone with information about the case to call Detective Justin Ivens at 774-2230.