Case Cutters Arrested; Case Smashings Up in CA


May 4, 2004

Case Cutters Arrested; Case Smashings Up in CA

The Jewelers' Security Alliance reports two suspects were arrested and linked to a series of up to 60-80 thefts in which thieves cut the silicone seal on jewelry store case tops, lifted the top and removed merchandise. JSA has sent out several warnings to its members this year about the gang committing these crimes, which plagued jewelers in 18 states.

The suspects, one male and one female, were arrested by the FBI and the New York Police Dept. Organized Theft Task Force in Queens, NY, on April 27, following intense cooperation with 40 separate police agencies scattered through 18 states. The suspects were in possession of a quantity of stolen high-end watches. Losses linked to the crime spree could total at least $3 million.

A new problem has been reported in California – a wave of case smashings at retail jewelers, JSA reports. More than 23 incidents have been recorded since March 27, mostly in the Los Angeles area. Many, but not all, occur after 8 p.m. in mall and department store locations. Suspects are described as two black men in their 20s who use hammers.

JSA also reports two crimes that call for continued vigilance about store openings and closings, a vulnerable time for jewelry crime, as well as about being followed home.

In Carson, CA, the employees of a retail jewelry store closed for the evening, secured the merchandise in the safe, and left the store through the back door. As they exited the back door, two armed Hispanic males ordered the employees back into the store and robbed it. To avoid such crimes, JSA advised jewelers in a 2003 bulletin to avoid entering and exiting their stores through rear doors or quiet side alleys. Jewelers should also check outside before leaving their stores and notify police if they see anyone suspicious.

JSA also reported on a recent Massachusetts robbery that occurred to retail jewelers in the driveway of their home. The husband and wife team had gone to Boston to sell jewelry, stopping briefly at their store on the way home. After pulling into their driveway, a suspect came up to the driver's side door, showed a gun, and told them to open the trunk. After the trunk was opened from the interior of the car, a second suspect grabbed a bag containing jewelry from the trunk and fled. JSA, in an advisory issued after a rash of home invasions in 2003, said jewelers should keep large safes or quantities of jewelry merchandise away from their homes. Because robbers usually case their victims, JSA also said jewelers should always be aware of being watched or followed. People sitting in a car near your home or store for too long or a car that follows you when you leave the store should trigger a call to police. Keep a charged cell phone with you at all times and vary your route to and from work.

by Peggy Jo Donahue

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