PROTECTING OUR NATIONAL "TREASURES":
Taking a Bead on an International Ring of Jewel Thieves
It began with
a car chase: one cold January afternoon this year, a handful
of South American immigrants from New York City stole nearly $100,000
worth of Rolex watches from a jewelry store in Cranston, Rhode Island.
They fled the scene in a minivan, with local police in hot pursuit.
Minutes later, they slammed into a police cruiser. They jumped out
of the van and fled on foot, but four were immediately caught and arrested.
One lead led
to another ... all the way to Operation Cut and Run, a massive
investigation by the FBI, the New York City Police Department, the
Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), the U.S. Attorney's
Office in the Southern District of New York, the Queens County District
Attorney's Office, and other law enforcement partners.
In the end, this multi-agency
initiative uncovered and ultimately took down a criminal enterprise that
had stolen more than $3 million worth of high-dollar pieces of
jewelry across the eastern seaboard in more than 90 separate thefts. So
far, 16 members of the crew have been arrested or indicted, and one has
For the FBI,
it's a textbook jewelry theft case, as you can see on our Jewelry
and Gem Program website.
thefts were orchestrated by a signature international enterprise: a South
American Theft Group, or SATG that operated out of New York
City, one of the common bases for jewelry theft rings.
- The ring
was sophisticated: the thieves would enter jewelry stores
in small groups, with some members distracting sales and security
personnel while others operated as lookouts. Once the coast was clear,
some of them would stand around a showcase to shield it from view
while others used a tool to cut the silicone holding the case together
and remove the goods. The group would then leave the scene and meet
a waiting get-away vehicle.
- The thefts
extended across state lines, bringing in the FBI with its
national and international network of agents.
- As usual,
fences played a role in receiving and moving the stolen goods.
as we do in all of these cases, we enter the intelligence
gained--including the modus operandi of the group and descriptions
of suspects--into our Jewelry
and Gem database. This information helps law enforcement partners
nationwide coordinate any related investigations and better understand
the jewelry and gem criminal enterprises operating in the U.S. We
also provide training to
local jewelry professionals who are targets of these crimes.
in learning more about the FBI's Jewelry and Gem Program? Please
visit our new and improved website.