A merchant who works in San Francisco’s Design District reportedly supplied police with the necessary information to nab the Cubicle Con.
Nicholas Anthony Simat, 26, was arrested Thursday in connection with a series of brazen thefts of iPhones from Bay Area businesses.
Simat’s method of operation, according to police, was to pretend to be a customer at various businesses including dental offices, auto dealerships and home improvements stores. He would allegedly wait until employees became distracted before snatching cellphones, tablets and other items off their desk.
The Cubicle Con had been linked to heists in cities such as South San Francisco, Daly City, Burlingame, Petaluma and Los Altos. But the decision to hit merchants along Kansas Street in The City apparently contributed to his demise.
One of his apparent victims, Nyra Krstovich, sent police a license plate number and picture of the blue Chevy truck that Simat allegedly had been riding in with an accomplice. Krstovich, who had her cellphone stolen from her desk at Nova Designs Builds Inc., said a detective told her that evidence was critical.
“Because of that, they were able to find him,” Krstovich said. “Made me feel good.”
Police have described Simat as a “smooth talker” who would spend a lot of time in businesses chatting up employees, building their trust and then waiting for them to be distracted. Krstovich described Simat, who visited the building three times, as “unassuming” but said she and her husband never trusted him because they’ve dealt with intruders before in the Design District.
“We could tell he was casing the joint,” Krstovich said. “He wasn’t looking at us, he was looking around.”
He reportedly told the employees of several area businesses that he wanted to remodel a home that his deceased grandmother had left him. At South San Francisco dental offices, according to police, he would say his daughter needed braces and would go on tours of the facilities.
Police said Friday that they were acting on a tip and contacted Simat at his friend’s home in Pinole. He admitted to numerous thefts of iPhones throughout the Bay Area, police said. He reportedly claimed he stole to fund his addiction to heroin and Oxycontin.
Simat was booked into San Mateo County Jail on Thursday afternoon on 10 burglary charges.
The San Mateo County District Attorney’s Office is scheduled to file charges Monday, as they were awaiting cases from two of four county law enforcement agencies that have reportedly linked Simat to thefts in their cities.