Jeweler arrested for allegedly buying stolen watches from crime ring

A Southern California jeweler allegedly bought stolen Rolex watches from an Eastern European organized crime ring and resold the timepieces as new, The Associated Press reports.

Deputies arrested Mike Tekin, 26, at Alexander Jewelers in the Galleria shopping mall in Riverside, Calif., last week and booked him for receiving stolen property, the AP reports. Tekin, co-owner of the store, knowingly purchased the stolen watches, Riverside police said.

The organized crime group, known by authorities as YACS with members from Yugoslavia, Albania, Croatia, and Serbia, is believed to be responsible for dozens of burglaries in the past two years. Investigators estimate YACS has stolen up to $10 million in cash and jewelry.

Investigators also raided the Alexander Jewelry store at The Promenade mall in Temecula and two homes in Redlands owned by Tekin, the AP reports.

Alexander Jewelers allegedly took apart stolen Rolex watches and swapped parts so they couldn’t be identified as stolen property, then they were sold as new.

A break in the case came after a burglary at two doctor’s offices in Sun City led detectives to a residence in Banning and a warehouse in Redlands, where three arrests were made March 5, the AP reports.

A preliminary hearing was expected to begin on Monday for alleged YACS members Johnny Andreis, James Rogers and Lucian Isaia, who are being held in lieu of $1 million bond each.

Andreis was arrested March 17 at a Banning, Calif., residence after another burglary at a swap meet in Perris. A task force was then formed to investigate the crime ring.