Distraction thefts by gypsies reported in New Jersey and New York

The Jewelers’ Security Alliance has issued a warning that four recent thefts at jewelry stores in New Jersey and New York were being performed by what are believed to be families of gypsies.

In each case, a group of people (anywhere from eight to 12) enter jewelry stores and distract the employees. A person then sneaks into the back room and takes cash and jewelry from the safe. In each case, the persons purchased small amounts of jewelry.

The most recent theft occurred July 13 at a store in Jersey City. JSA reports that eight women wearing long skirts and three men distracted the sales staff while a women with braids wearing a black shirt crawled into the back room on her hands and knees and removed cash and jewelry from an open safe. The women took three boxes of jewelry and concealed them under her skirt. The loss was discovered a half-hour later and was recorded on surveillance video. They purchased $210 in merchandise and were speaking among themselves in a language unfamiliar to the sales staff.

A day earlier in Brooklyn, N.Y., a similar group entered the store distracted the staff looking at merchandise, while a woman snuck to the back room and took cash and jewelry from a safe that was closed but not locked, according to JSA reports. An observer described them as a gypsy gang.
 
Both thefts were recorded by video surveillance cameras, JSA reports.

On July 11, JSA reports that two similar thefts took place about 15 minutes apart from jewelry stores on the same street in Iselin, N.J. In each case about 10 to 12 people, including men, women, and a boy, making a lot of noise, arrived in a van together, and went into each store. They distracted the sales staff while someone managed to get into a safe in a rear room. One store owner described the group as looking like gypsies, JSA reports. They were in each for no more than eight minutes and all left at the same time. The women, ranging from 20 years old to 40, were wearing skirts and scarves, and the men wore khaki pants and white shirts.

JSA said this gang may have committed similar thefts in Jackson Heights (Queens, N.Y.) on July 12 and in Upper Darby, Pa., in February 2006.