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Police: Armed men steal iPhone from Craigslist seller, resell it

August 06, 2013|By Hailey Branson-Potts

The man had listed a laptop for sale on Craigslist and met his potential buyers Saturday at a McDonald's in Panorama City, hoping for a sale.

Instead, the men in the parking lot waved a gun, stole his iPhone — and went right back to Craigslist to list and sell it.

Police say they were surprised by the swiftness with which two men suspected in the aggravated robbery resold the iPhone 5, which was purchased from the thieves within hours after it was stolen.

“That’s not how stolen property usually works,” said Lt. Paul Vernon of the Los Angeles Police Department. “Craigslist has created a completely new opportunity for crooks and giving them much more return on their illicit efforts.”

Levon Iskandaryan, 23, allegedly waved down the victim, a 24-year-old Panorama City man, in the McDonald’s parking lot at about 8 p.m. Saturday night and saw that he was holding the phone, police said.

Iskandaryan persuaded the victim to walk to a nearby gray Toyota Solara, telling him a passenger in the backseat was pointing a gun at him.

In the vehicle, Mambreh Khachian, 33, held a gun, and a third man was in the driver’s seat, according to police. Iskandaryan grabbed the phone, and, after the victim let go, the car door shut, catching the victim’s clothing, Vernon said.

The car dragged the victim for several feet, scraping and burning his skin, police said.

Iskadaryan and Khachian are believed to have gone back to Craigslist that night and contacted a person who listed a want ad for an iPhone 5, police said. That person met them at a Glendale Starbucks and paid $350 for the phone.

A family member of the victim activated an app that showed the recent locations of the phone and allowed officers to trace the signal to a Hillrose Street house in Sunland, Vernon said.

Officers found the Toyota outside and, around midnight, Khachian left the house in the vehicle. Officers let him drive away and later arrested him, Vernon said. The phone had already been sold at the Starbucks.

Officers returned to the Sunland home to find Iskandaryan, who was on probation for other crimes, police said.

Iskandaryan and Khachian would not give the name of the driver of the car, and police are still searching for information about him, Vernon said. Police said he was dropped off in North Hollywood after the robbery.

Iskandaryan and Khachian were in custody Tuesday in lieu of $125,000 bail. Vernon said they were suspected of having conducted similar robberies in the past.

Anyone with information about the crime is asked to call detectives at (213) 838-9898 or text 274637 to Crimestoppers at (800) 222-8477. Text messages should begin with the letters LAPD.

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hailey.branson@latimes.com

twitter.com/haileybranson

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