By Michelle Graff
Kansas City, Mo.—The Jewelers’ Security Alliance is on the lookout for a man authorities say has stolen jewelry from retailers in a spree spanning seven states.

On Monday, JSA issued an alert about the suspect taking a 3-carat diamond from a jewelry store in the Kansas City, Missouri area late last month.

According to the bulletin, he visited the store on July 30, the day before the theft, and was “all over the board” on what he wanted to see.

When the suspect returned the next day, he parked his car, a white Pontiac sedan, in the parking lot of a shopping center across the street.

JSA said he entered the store wearing a baseball cap and the kind of face mask worn to prevent the spread of COVID-19, which he did not have on the previous day, President John J. Kennedy noted.

He ignored the owner’s greeting—Kennedy said he was “very gruff”—and headed straight into the bridal room.

With all staff members busy waiting on customers in the other room, the suspect grabbed a set of keys from behind the showcase and quickly returned to the customer side, JSA said.

After a few tries, he was able to unlock the showcase, took the diamond ring and put the keys back in the drawer.

No one at the store noticed the ring was missing until the next day.

20200811 sneak theft suspect headerSecurity camera stills of the suspect from jewelry stores he’s hit in Manlius, New York (far left), Kansas City, Missouri, and Raleigh, North Carolina. (Photos courtesy of the Jewelers’ Security Alliance)

When the pandemic first spurred the widespread wearing of masks in early spring, Kennedy told jewelers not to view customers’ mask-wearing as a potential threat on its own but instead to look out for masks coupled with other common red flags.

In this case, the suspect came into the store the day before with no apparent agenda, wore a ballcap in addition to the mask and more suspiciously, Kennedy said, parked across the street instead of in front of the store, presumably so employees wouldn’t see his vehicle (which was captured on the store’s exterior cameras anyway).

In addition, showcase keys should be kept with the owner or employees or locked up somewhere in the store, not left in the lock, on the counter, in a drawer or hanging from a hook.

20200810 sneak thief suspect carThe suspect wanted in a spate of sneak thefts at jewelry stores was last seen driving this white Pontiac sedan.The suspect is believed to have pulled off similar thefts in at least eight or nine jewelry stores spanning seven states: Arkansas, Illinois, Louisiana, Missouri, New York, North Carolina and Oklahoma.

He is described as a white male in his late 30s or early 40s with a distinct speech pattern or speech impediment of some sort.

He first came on the JSA’s radar in fall 2019 when he allegedly pocketed loose diamonds at a jewelry store in Manlius, New York and stole a watch from another store in Raleigh, North Carolina.

“He is strictly a sneak thief,” Kennedy said.

This suspect doesn’t pull a gun or smash up the showcases; he simply gets his hands into open showcases or uses keys to reach in and grab a couple items.

Kennedy also noted the suspect, who is believed to be working alone, is mobile, as he’s been able to hit stores spanning from New York to Oklahoma.

TAGS:   Crime
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