Jewelry Crime Blotter: Week of Oct. 15

A weekly roundup of jewelry store crimes with related tips from JCK:

Authorities in Tampa Bay, Fla., are investigating a thief who allegedly purchased more than $50,000 in high-end merchandise using stolen credit cards in the past several weeks.

The male suspect allegedly used credit cards found in the wallets to make purchases at department stores such as Tiffany & Co., Zales, and King’s Jewelry at local malls. The charges include a $13,000 purchase at Tiffany.

The man was caught on surveillance video inside a store, and appears to be African-American, bald, with a large build, facial hair, and diamond earring in his left ear.

Anyone with information on these incidents or the identity of the suspect should contact Tampa Bay authorities.

The Jewelers’ Security Alliance’s Manual of Jewelry Security suggests that jewelers make sure that the name on the card matches the photo identification of the person using it. Jewelers should also compare the signature on the card to the signature on the receipt, and look for signs of crude forgeries, such as warping, bubbling, or other imperfections.

– Denver police are searching for thieves who pulled a bait-and-switch scam at a local jewelry store.

The two suspects walked into Joyeria El Ruby and told the store’s employee that they needed to sell 10 pieces of gold quickly because of a family emergency. One of the suspects distracted the employee, while the other thief switched the real bag of gold that had just been assessed with a bag filled with fake gold. The gold was valued at $11,000.

The thieves were caught on the store’s surveillance camera, and Denver police are asking anyone with information about the crime to call 720-913-6010.

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“It is essential that if a jeweler is purchasing gold from the public, the jeweler must test the gold carefully, and then not let it out of his possession,” John Kennedy, JSA president, tells JCK. “If the gold leaves the jeweler’s possession and sight, the jeweler must then retest all the gold product again.”

– All the ports in Cozumel, Mexico, were closed Wednesday night as Mexican police searched for suspects who robbed world’s largest duty-free jewelry store.

Police halted maritime traffic for 14 hours after an armed robbery at Diamonds International. The masked robbers were armed and injured two people, including one security guard who was hit in the head with a pistol handle. Several suspects smashed display cases and stuffed watches and merchandise in plastic grocery bags, while other remained on the lookout outside. The thieves fled in a van, which police found later a few blocks away.

Police apprehended 13 of the 15 suspects, six of whom were women. The group was hired to commit the robbery by a pair known only by their nicknames—El Pollo (The Chicken) and El Sanajas (The Rattles)—who abandoned the group during the crime. One of the leaders has been linked to other robberies at Diamonds International outlets, including one in Puerto Vallarta.

The store is popular with cruise passengers. Three cruise ships left before the ports closed.

JSA suggests that jewelers do not attempt to disarm the robbers, reach for a concealed weapon, or do or say anything that angers the robbers. Jewelers should expect to be threatened, and should call the police immediately after the incident without disturbing the crime scene. All of the store’s employees should have rehearsed what to do in a robbery to prevent panicking that could provoke more violence.

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