ALL THREE SUSPECTS IN KIDNAPPING OF FEMALE JEWELRY EMPLOYEE ARE IN CUSTODY
Philadelphia, PA - June 8, 2015
Three suspects who kidnapped, robbed and assaulted a female employee leaving a store in Philadelphia on April 4, 2015 are now in custody. Khayree Gay, 31, was arrested in Lake City, SC less than a week after the robbery. Basil Buie, 26, and Salahudin Shaheed, 35, were arrested by agents of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives on June 4, 2015, and appeared before a U.S. Magistrate on June 8. They were ordered to be held without bail until their trial. The suspects face charges of attempted robbery and kidnapping.
GANG PLEADS GUILTY TO ARMED ROBBERIES OF JEWELRY STORES
New York - May 2015
Sean Robinson, 43, and Kendal Thompson, 31, pled guilty in federal court to robbery cases involving high end jewelry stores in NY, NJ, VA and CT. They were charged with Hobbs Act robbery conspiracy which carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison. Between July 2013 and January 2014, the gang carried out smash and grab robberies in jewelry stores in four states. In one case they injured an employee by firing a stun gun. Eight members of this gang have been arrested and all have pleaded guilty. Two gang members have been sentenced to 9 years in prison and 3 years.
RECENT ROBBERIES OF RETAIL JEWELERY STORES
Albuquerque, NM - May 7, 2015 – A suspect wearing a ski mask and surgical gloves entered a jewelry store, pointed a gun at a sales associate and left with 250 pieces of jewelry. Surveillance footage allowed police to identify the suspect, and investigation led them to another store where the suspect was going to have some of the jewelry appraised. The suspect was arrested.
Englewood, NJ - April 26, 2015 – A black male suspect entered a retail jewelry store at 5:30 p.m. wearing a hoodie. He pulled a heavy tool from his clothing and began smashing showcases. The suspect took several trays of rings, and smashed his way out of the store when the owner locked the door. A chase ensued and the suspect escaped into the city’s sewer system.
Monterey Park, CA - April 30, 2015 – At 4:20 p.m. a black male who had previously been in the store several weeks before acting suspiciously entered a retail jewelry store again. The sales associate was concerned and called security, but prior to the arrival of security, the suspect pulled out a handgun, pointed it at the associate and ordered the associate to give the suspect all the rings. The suspect left with 20 solitaires of significant value.
PATTERN OF RETAIL JEWELRY ROBBERIES IN TEXAS
Cypress, TX- May 23, 2015 – Three black male suspects, all about 28-years-old, entered a retail chain jewelry store. One held the door open, while a second pointed a gun at the sales associates, ordering them to the floor. A sales associate was ordered to open a high end watch showcase and stand back. The suspects, who were in the store for 3 minutes, took the watches and fled on foot.
Frisco, TX – May 15, 2015 – At 10:04 a.m. four male suspects who were masked held employees at gunpoint and took jewelry from four showcases that were smashed.
Katy, TX – April 10, 2015 – Two male suspects, each 6-feet-tall, entered a retail jewelry chain store at 11:10 a.m. One suspect pointed a gun at the two sales associates while ordering them to sit down. The other suspect used a hammer to smash showcases that had high end watches. The suspects were in the store 2 to 3 minutes. They are believed to have fled in a gray Chevrolet Impala.
Sugarland, TX – March 30, 2015 – Two suspects entered a retail jewelry chain store at 11:40 a.m. wearing bandanas covering their faces and armed with a hammer and gun. The gun was pointed at the sales associates and customers who were told to stay calm and not make any fast movements. The suspects smashed showcases, grabbed merchandise and fled in 45 seconds. The suspects were last seen in a white pickup, possibly a Toyota Tacoma.
Houston, TX – March 9, 2015 – Two black male suspects entered a retail jewelry store at 11:50 a.m. While one suspect used a hammer to smash showcases, the other held employees at gunpoint. The suspects fled in a white pickup, possibly a Toyota Tacoma.
Richmond, TX – January 22, 2015 – Four male suspects wearing bandanas entered a retail jewelry store at noon and jumped over the counter. One suspect grabbed a sales associate and took her to the back room where she was tied up. Another sales associate was taken to another room and forced to lie on the floor. After shots were exchanged, the suspects fled in a white van.
SUSPECT SWITCHES DIAMOND EARRINGS FOR CZs
Orlando, FL – June 3, 2015
A white male suspect went into a retail jewelry chain store, was shown earrings, and left after a short time. The suspect returned at 5:09 p.m. and was assisted by another sales associate and was shown several 2 CT diamond earrings. During the presentation the suspect dropped one of the pairs of earrings on the floor, and handed the sales associate back cubic zirconia earrings which the suspect had substituted. The suspect immediately left the store and the sales associate noticed that the real diamond earrings had been replaced by CZs. The suspects is described as late 30s and skinny. He was reported to be driving a white Mercedes E350.
RECOMMENDATION: Whenever a customer drops an item on the floor during a sales presentation, the sales associate must use extreme care to determine that the item returned was the same item that the customer was handed and examined. Dropping product on the floor is a red flag for possible switch.
RECENT TRAVELING SALESPERSON/OFF PREMISES CRIMES
Novi, MI – April 27, 2015 – A traveling salesperson carrying sample lines and a few extra pieces was followed by a group of suspects after visiting a retail jewelry store. When he later stopped, the suspects pulled up alongside his vehicle in a white minivan. Two of suspects pushed the salesperson to the ground and another two suspects remained in the van. The masked suspects then stole merchandise and fled.
Van Nuys, CA – April 9, 2015 – A wholesale jeweler had left a retail store in Beverly Hills and drove to Van Nuys where he was dropping off an order at a residence. While returning the jewelry cases back to the trunk of his vehicle, two male Hispanics approached the victim and attempted to take the suitcases. While they were struggling, one of the suspects said “We have knives, we will kill you.” The suspects struck the victim and fled with the bags containing merchandise. The suspects left in a dark colored Mazda sedan and a gold Hyundai.
Bellevue, WA – April 22, 2015 – A salesperson parked his car in the parking lot of a strip mall at noon in order to make a sales call. After staying in the car for 10-15 minutes, he exited the car and went into a store to see a client. When the salesperson returned to the car at 12:30 p.m. to retrieve some items, he saw that the driver’s side window was smashed and the door handle had been punched. Jewelry line bags had been taken from the rear cargo area.
CRIME PREVENTION ADVICE FOR JEWELERS
WHAT TO DO IN A ROBBERY
Even if a jeweler follows all the right procedures to discourage robberies, the jeweler may still wind up a robbery target. JSA's main advice if you do have a robbery is this: Do not resist, and cooperate fully. For many years the JSA has promoted the following lifesaving guidelines on what to do in a robbery:
1. Obey the orders of the robber. Do not say or do anything, or even raise your hands, unless told to do so. Cooperate fully and try not to panic.
2. Do not attempt to disarm the robber or reach for a concealed weapon. Assume that the robber will shoot without hesitation.
3. Never do or say anything that would anger the robber. Example: do not stare at him and have him think that you are trying to memorize his facial characteristics.
4. The less time the robbers are in the store, the less risk there is of injury. Once the robbers have your merchandise, they can be expected to leave quickly.
5. Do not press a holdup alarm, if your premises has one, until the robbers have left the store and you have locked the door. If the police arrive while the robbers are in the store, or if the robbers return, a deadly hostage situation could develop.
6. Expect to be threatened. One of the robber's weapons is the fear he creates. Robbers commonly say: "I'll kill you if you make a move!" This is a typical threat. Expect it. Keep calm.
7. Frequently the robber will force the jeweler and his staff to a back room or washroom. Expect to be tied up or handcuffed, or told to lie on the floor. Do as you are told.
8. If you are out of the robbers' sight, in a back room or elsewhere, stay where you are. Do not intrude on the crime scene.
9. Do not chase the robbers or follow them out of the store.
10. Call the police immediately after the robbers leave and you have locked the door. Do not wipe or try to clean the cases or other surfaces, or otherwise disturb the crime scene before the police respond, because you may destroy fingerprints or other valuable evidence. Try to memorize all the locations touched by the robbers so that you can advise the police about possible fingerprint evidence when they arrive.
11. Try to keep witnesses present until the police arrive. At the least, obtain the names, addresses and phone numbers of any witnesses.
12. Do not talk to the media or allow them to film in your premises. Refuse all media interviews.
13. It is important to rehearse with all employees what they should do in a robbery. Being prepared may help prevent an employee from panicking and provoking violence.
SMASH AND GRAB ROBBERY RECOMMENDATIONS
In 2014 a total of 110 smash and grab robberies of jewelry stores in the U.S. were reported to JSA, compared to 62 in 2013, a 77% increase. Jewelers can’t rely only on the great work by law enforcement to help with this crime problem. Below are some recommendations provided to jewelers by JSA to help reduce the smash and grab epidemic.
1. Showcases with burglary-resistant, laminated glass and special frames can withstand many blows with a hammer and can prevent or reduce large losses. JSA has not seen robbers take retaliatory action when laminated glass is used and robbers are unable to enter a showcase or are able to take only a small amount of merchandise from a small hole. Furthermore, robbers frequently cut themselves on small holes and leave behind valuable DNA evidence from blood.
2. Surveillance photos from eye-level cameras inside and outside the store provide excellent evidence for police.
3. Having buzzers on the door can help to keep out potential robbers.
4. Keeping a log book of suspicious incidents, and putting aside and saving surveillance video of suspicious incidents, can be a great help in subsequent investigations.
5. Sharing information and photos among jewelers and police, and with JSA, regarding casings and suspects can help prevent crime and assist with investigations.
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