CALGARY -- Authorities are hoping residents can help cut down on the number of cellphones stolen from retailers in southern Alberta, especially after a coordinated incident that targeted a store in a Lethbridge mall.

Officials say they are investigating an incident that took place on Feb. 7, where five men entered a TELUS store in Park Place Mall and made off with a number of display phones worth approximately $9,000.

It's believed the suspects ended up fleeing the city in a vehicle.

As a result, police are warning businesses to be aware of distraction and swarming tactics being employed by thieves. They also want residents to be on the lookout for stolen phones being posted for sale through various methods.

Lethbridge police say anyone looking to buy a phone from someone online should request the seller forward them the unique, 15-digit international mobile equipment identity (IMEI) number.

When buyers enter this information into a free website like, they can easily confirm it hasn't been stolen or "blacklisted" by carriers.

Buyers are also being reminded about other tips when it comes to online purchases including meeting in a safe place, having a friend or family member come with you and using common sense when it comes to making transactions.

The investigation is still ongoing into the Feb. 7 incident and anyone with information is asked to call Lethbridge police at 403-328-4444 or Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477.