Despite taking precautions to ensure they weren’t followed, two Hong Kong businessmen were robbed during the past weekend of $700,000 in jewelry they had brought to South Florida to sell, the South Florida Sun-Sentinel reported.
The victims, who work for a jewelry maker and wholesaler, described the incident as “frightening” and asked that their names not be published for fear the robbers would track them down, the newspaper reported.
The incident reportedly happened shortly before noon Saturday as the men were leaving their fourth-floor room at the Comfort Inn in Hollywood, Fla. They carried all their merchandise (gold, diamonds, rubies, and sapphires) in two backpacks and two briefcases and got on an elevator that runs outside the hotel’s main building.
No sooner had the door opened than two men wearing ski masks rushed in, grabbed the backpacks and briefcases and fled. One of the men kept a hand in a pocket, but no one saw any weapons, the newspaper reported. Witnesses told police they saw two other men acting as lookouts and a fifth man driving a getaway car.
“It happened so suddenly — in only a few seconds. They didn’t say anything, not one word,” one of the victims reportedly said at a news conference.
The men had been in town since May 13 and had visited about 10 clients, the newspaper reported. When leaving a hotel or shopping area, the men reportedly said they make evasive maneuvers to make sure they’re not being followed. They visit South Florida about six times a year and had never been robbed, they reportedly said.
“We don’t tell our clients where we stay,” the victim reportedly said. “It looks like it was a set-up.”
Police agree that the robbery was planned, the newspaper reported. They also are checking the victims’ backgrounds with international law enforcement agencies.
The robbers were seen fleeing in a white 1990s model Jeep Cherokee.