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Phoenix PD: Suspect arrested in 12 Valley cell phone store robberies

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Posted at 12:44 PM, Dec 14, 2016
and last updated 2016-12-14 14:44:15-05

A man suspected in as many as 12 armed robberies has been captured in Tempe.

Gilbert Bella Martinez is accused of stealing hundreds of dollars in cash, and thousands of dollars worth of cell phones from Valley cell phone stores, according to court records.

Police report that on Nov. 14 the 30-year-old went into the Boost Mobile cell phone store near 32nd Street and McDowell Road acting like a typical customer, until he told the employee, "Don't do anything dumb, open the drawer, I have a gun."

Police say that when the employee hit the silent alarm, Martinez became nervous and fled, only taking the hand sanitizer he was holding while in the store. 

Five days later, Martinez allegedly struck again, this time at a Cricket store near 16th Street and Thomas Road.

In this case, police say Martinez took money from the cash drawer and then asked the employee "where the big money was." The employee went to the back room and got him a bank bag with cash inside. 

A couple of weeks later, he reportedly robbed another cell phone store, this time getting money and a box full of cell phones.

Police received information that indicated Martinez, who had previously served seven years in prison for similar crimes, might be the person responsible for the robberies. Victims who were shown his photo identified him as the suspect.

When police located Martinez at his Tempe home, he ran from officers and threw his handgun into a nearby parking structure.

After he was caught, Martinez told police that he planned on killing himself with the one bullet that was in the gun.

Martinez has been charged with one count of armed robbery, but police say he is a suspect in a dozen armed robberies.