WOODBURY — Fatima M. Aviles, 27, of Philadelphia, was found guilty today June 2 by a Gloucester County jury of burglary and theft of more than $35,000 in cell phones from two Verizon stores in Glassboro and Washington Township in July and August 2013.
After the verdict on four counts of third-degree burglary and three of theft, Superior Court Judge Robert P. Becker set sentencing for Aug. 14.
Aviles gained access to the stores on four dates by using a key issued to employees that would open a number of stores in the New Jersey/Southeastern Pennsylvania area, said Assistant Gloucester County Prosecutor Dianna Reed-Rolando. Surveillance video retrieved from the Glassboro and Washington Township stores was viewed by Verizon employees and two identified the burglar as Aviles, Reed-Rolando said.
Those two employees testified they believed the person seen on camera taking phones from the store stock rooms and stuffing them in a duffel bag and backpack was Aviles. The burglar’s height and clothing convinced them it was her, they said. Both said Aviles was a friend of a woman with whom they had worked at Pennsylvania Verizon stores and who left her job without returning her store key. Both had met Aviles through that employee. The employee was not the thief in the videos, they said. One testified Aviles’ Facebook page showed her wearing a hat and jacket that looked like the same apparel the burglar wore in the store videos they were shown.
Glassboro Police Detective Michael Powell testified he measured shelving in the borough Verizon store to obtain the approximate height of the burglar next to the shelves. “It definitely looked like the person in the video was in the area of 61 inches” said Powell. That corresponds to Aviles 5’ 1” height. Her former Verizon employee friend is 5’8”. That friend could not be located, prosecution witnesses said.
A Verizon regional manager testified smartphones valued at $35,067 were stolen in the first three burglaries. A lock change prevented entry to a storage room during the fourth break-in, he said. None of the phones was recovered.
Aviles’ attorney contended investigators made a mistake and the thief was the former employee.
“There’s going to be no evidence Ms. Aviles enriched herself by these phones,” said attorney Martin Eisenberg.
The ex-employee “had the key to get in there,” said Eisenberg in closing his case. “She had to know the layout.” Aviles elected not to testify.
In a Power Point Presentation accompanying her closing, Reed-Rolando called attention to the height disparity between Aviles and her friend. “The height is very important,” she said. “There is a huge difference in height.”