Crime Watch

PHILADELPHIA JEWELER DIES IN SHOOTING AT STOP LIGHT

A Philadelphia jeweler was shot and killed when he stopped his car at a traffic light Jan. 18. The murder occurred during the evening rush hour just two blocks from city police headquarters.

The jeweler was Arkady Shvartsman, 55, a Russian immigrant who did business for more than a decade in a small shop on Philadelphia’s “Jewelers Row.”

Inspector Jerrold Kane of the Philadelphia police homicide division said two men in the car in front of Shvartsman got out, approached his car and banged on the windows. One of them broke the driver’s side window and shot Shvartsman twice in the shoulder, then both assailants ran back to their car, drove onto the sidewalk to get around the stopped traffic and escaped on an expressway ramp, said Kane. Shvartsman was pronounced dead a few minutes later at a hospital. The assailants’ car, stolen from a suburban rental agency, was found abandoned about two hours later.

Witnesses described the assailants as black men probably in their 20s; one may have worn a ski cap. At press time, police believed the motive was robbery. Shvartsman was carrying more than $10,000, mostly in $100 bills, though the assailants fled without taking any of it.

Police also were looking into other factors. According to Capt. John Apelhorn of the city’s Organized Crime Unit and published reports, Shvartsman was arrested in 1983 and 1990 in connection with jewelry-fencing. In 1990, he received two years’ probation on charges of conspiracy and receiving stolen property. Apelhorn said that while his unit was investigating that aspect, there was nothing to connect it with the shooting.

TWO EXHIBITORS ROBBED ON NYC EXPRESSWAY

Two California men reportedly lost jewelry and gems worth an estimated $5 million in an armed robbery on a New York City expressway Jan. 10.

The two men – jewelry designer Gholam Azmoon, 46, and his son, Shahdad, 21, both of Sherman Oaks – had exhibited at the International Fashion Boutique Show at the Jacob Javits Convention Center and were taking a limousine to an airport about 7 p.m. Police said they carried with them a bag of uninsured gems and jewelry.

The two men and their driver later told police that a car sideswiped them on the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway. When the limo driver pulled off the expressway to assess damage and talk to the other driver, another car stopped and three hooded men got out, one with a knife and another with a gun. The assailants broke windows on both sides of the limo, ordered the driver out, demanded the keys and told him to run away. Police said the driver ran to a nearby public telephone, but it was broken, so he couldn’t call police. Meanwhile, the assailants held the two jewelers at gunpoint, took their bag and searched the trunk of the car. The two weren’t injured.

Lt. Peter Tartaglia of the New York Police Major Case Squad said the theft is similar to at least a dozen others in the past few years. Anyone with information should call him at (212) 374-6910.

SUSPECT SOUGHT IN SALESMAN’S MURDER

The Jewelers’ Security Alliance has issued a nationwide alert for a suspect in the murder of a traveling salesman Aug. 8 at a jewelry store in Chicago, Ill.

JSA doesn’t name the victim or the jewelry store, but identifies the suspect as Casanova Lamon, a black male who is 28 and weighs 150 pounds. He also is a suspect in other Chicago-area jewelry store thefts.

According to JSA, two other suspects “cased” the store earlier in the day under the guise of having a ring cleaned. Later, Lamon entered the store with the other two men. One was described as a black man age 18 to 25 and 150 pounds. The other was identified as Ronald A. Whitfield, who was later caught and arrested.

They took the owner, the employees and the victim to the back room. The victim broke away and ran to the front of the store to sound the alarm but was shot. The assailants also fired at the owner as they fled, but he wasn’t hurt.

Lamon may be driving a 1993 Black Isuzu Amigo with the Illinois license #FOI. Anyone with information should call JSA at (800) 537-0067 or Chicago Police Det. William Johnson at (312) 746-8282.

BEWARE OF ROBBERS POSING AS DELIVERY PERSONNEL

Jewelers should be on guard against phony delivery people, according to a recent bulletin from the Jewelers’ Security Alliance. JSA says that in several recent cases, robbers posed as delivery people to gain access to jewelry businesses outside of business hours or when the owner was alone.

For example, the owners of diamond businesses in New York, N.Y., and Miami, Fla., were robbed just after they had opened their safes for the day and admitted men dressed as Federal Express couriers. In both cases, the owners saw the men on security monitors and didn’t ask to see their credentials.

In Lexington, Ky., meanwhile, robbers gained entry to jewelry stores by posing as letter carriers. In Mission Viejo, Cal., and Manhasset, N.Y., robbers were admitted to jewelry stores after closing time by posing as package delivery personnel. And in Baltimore, Md., thieves gained entry to a jewelry store by posing as telephone company employees – complete with uniforms, helmets, clipboards, tools and utility belts.

The lessons here, says JSA, are:

  • Have your entire staff get to know your regular delivery people and tradespeople by sight.

  • Don’t automatically admit someone you don’t know. Ask for identification and a phone number, then call to confirm their identity and purpose.

  • Learn what proper identification a legitimate courier and other tradespeople must carry.

  • Use extreme caution in admitting anyone when you are alone, especially if the visit is unscheduled or unexpected.

  • Never admit a stranger before or after business hours.

“If in doubt, keep them out,” says JSA President John Kennedy.