Detroit--Seventeen members of a Detroit-based robbery crew who allegedly smashed display cases to steal Rolex watches from jewelry stores in six different states have been indicted.

The FBI announced Friday that the individuals, a mix of men and women ranging in age from 20 to 38,
have been charged in three separate indictments, all filed over the past month.  The charge is conspiracy to interfere with commerce by robbery of stores in New York, Maryland, North Carolina, Mississippi, Nebraska and Connecticut.

The 17 indictments stem from a series of investigations carried out by the FBI, state and local law enforcement agencies of about 40 smash-and-grab robberies that happened last year.

According to the indictment, this robbery crew planned and executed a total of six of these robberies.

They allegedly entered jewelry stores during business hours, smashed through the Rolex display cases with sledge hammers, grabbed hundreds of thousands of dollars in watches and fled via stolen vehicles that were waiting for them. They then returned to Michigan with the timepieces.

U.S. Attorney Barbara L. McQuade said the defendants went to jewelry stores in different states in hopes of “dividing and conquering witnesses and investigators,” but law enforcement agencies were able to work together to track them down.

Aiding in the effort was information supplied to these agencies by the Jewelers’ Security Alliance, which the FBI stated plays a “key role” in investigations of this kind by offering law enforcement agencies access to its database tracking gem and jewelry thefts.

JSA President John J. Kennedy was at the press conference held in Michigan last week announcing the indictments, and called this Detroit-based crew the “No. 1 threat” to the industry for the last year-and-a-half. He also noted that smash-and-grab robberies rose 77 percent year-over-year in 2014.

RELATED CONTENT: Tips for deterring smash-and-grab robbers

Law enforcement officials still are working to identify 16 other people involved in smash-and-grab robberies outside of these six incidents. 

Jewelers Mutual Insurance Co., along with a consortium of other industry firms, are offering a $45,000 reward for information leading to arrests in these cases. Kennedy said anyone with information can call the JSA at 800-325-1883 and give their tip anonymously.

The names of all 17 individuals indicted along with their cities of residence can be found at FBI.gov.


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