The trio of armed teenagers who robbed an East Vancouver cell store Monday afternoon were after the newly-released iPhone 5s, but demand has been so high there was only one left to steal.

The masked robbers burst into the Tom Harris Cellular Store on Rupert St. at around 3:30 p.m. brandishing a gun and a knife, then demanded employees hand over the sought-after Apple smart phones released Friday.

But company COO Jeff Cruickshank said supplies of the 5s have been limited, and there was only one unit left at that location.

“Theft like this tends to go up, especially when a new iPhone launches,” Cruickshank said. “Ironically, there just aren’t that many of them available so we don’t have a lot of phones on hand.”

Employees told Cruickshank the robbers became agitated and didn’t believe there was only one 5s, which can retail for up to $900. They tied workers’ hands behind their backs and made them open up the safe, to no avail.

“My understanding is they just didn’t believe it. They couldn’t believe how few phones were in our safe,” Cruickshank said.

The teens eventually settled for stealing the one iPhone 5s, 10 other phones, the cash from the till and whatever they could get from employees, including some loose pocket change.

The boys then loaded into a stolen getaway car and tried to flee, but Vancouver Police Const. Brian Montague said they quickly got snarled in traffic and abandoned the vehicle.

Officers caught two 17-year-old suspects near the scene but a third remains on the loose.

Police have yet to release a description of the remaining suspect, but investigators have obtained surveillance video from the Telus dealer.

Montague said the incident can serve as a warning not only to stores, but citizens as well, particularly those who walk around with their phones out at night.

“You wouldn’t walk down the street with five $100 bills or eight $100 bills in your hand, why do that with a cell phone?” Montague said.

“Phones are a desirable object, they can be easily sold at a fairly high price.”

There have been 128 cell phone robberies in Vancouver so far this year. Montague said that number represents a 16 per cent drop from 2012, but remains a significant problem.

With a report from CTV British Columbia’s Scott Roberts