FRANKLIN PARK, N.J. — A Somerset County man admitted Monday that he stole nearly 300 iPhones that were seized by federal law enforcement officers by hiding the devices in his pants, boots and jacket over about a month.
Joel Cruz, 27, pleaded guilty in a videoconference hearing to theft from an interstate or foreign shipment, according to the New Jersey U.S. Attorney’s Office. Cruz worked for a contractor that handled items seized by U.S. Customs and Border Protection.
CBP officers sent 628 iPhones — held in 14 boxes — to the warehouse after the items were intercepted enroute to Dubai at Boston Logan International Airport in November 2014, according to court documents.
Cruz scanned the location of the boxes within the warehouse and stole 292 iPhones worth $218,372, authorities said. He smuggled the phones out of the facility in his clothing on separate occasions in early 2015.
A temporary worker at the warehouse helped Cruz steal a “small number” of the phones in exchange for one or two of the devices. Authorities said Cruz also gave 175 to 200 of the stolen iPhones to a former warehouse employee to sell on his behalf.