Victor Rivera, 30, and Johan Araujo, 40, have been indicted for allegedly committing at least 11 robberies, mostly of high-value watches from jewelers in the New York tri-state area, according to a news release from the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York.
What makes these robberies particularly nasty—as well as rare—is that they didn’t occur in stores. The two suspects allegedly swiped watches from jewelers when they were eating, near their homes, and walking on the street, says John Kennedy, president of the Jewelers’ Security Alliance (JSA).
The indictment charges that the armed duo robbed a jeweler in Brooklyn, N.Y., of a Patek Philippe watch worth over $160,000 and a diamond necklace worth over $77,000; stole a Richard Mille watch worth over $81,000 from a jeweler in Hoboken, N.J.; and nabbed a Richard Mille watch worth over $250,000 from a jeweler in Englewood Cliffs, N.J., among other robberies.
The suspects mostly targeted jewelers based in the Diamond District, but in one case, a nonjeweler was targeted after he showed off his expensive watch on social media, Kennedy says.
The easiest way for jewelers to avoid these crimes is to not wear expensive watches or jewelry in public, but Kennedy realizes that’s difficult advice for most to follow.
“We can’t say, ‘Don’t wear jewelry’—that’s ridiculous,” he says. “The advice we give is to be prudent. There are people on 47th Street who are very ostentatious. Everyone can see what they’re wearing.”
High-end watches in particular may pose “special risks,” JSA says.
The JSA has long recommended jewelers not conduct business in public, take precautions to avoid being followed, and follow proper security procedures at their homes.
The other piece of advice is a familiar one from JSA: If you are robbed, don’t resist.
In one incident that took place in March, a man was showing watches to a potential customer at a restaurant in Beverly Hills, Calif. Three men tried to steal the watches by flashing a gun at the jeweler. The jeweler tried to grab the gun away. In the ensuing tussle, a nearby diner was shot. The woman’s injuries were not fatal. The three men have since been arrested.
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