diamonds

Thieves Involved in Nov. 11 Diamond District Theft Still Missing

A woman is in the jewelry store
It takes a lot of courage to walk into a jewelry store in the middle of New York City’s tourist-riddled Diamond District, in broad daylight, and on a holiday like Veterans Day when customers are likely to be out shopping for good deals on expensive items. But that’s exactly what two men decided to do just a couple weeks ago.

To everyone’s surprise, the men actually managed to get away with the robbery, too. Authorities have announced that one man, suspected of assisting with the robbery, has been taken into custody, but the two men who actually committed the crime are still missing.

Jewelry store robberies are hardly rare occurrences, and this particular heist only resulted in about $500,000 worth of jewels and cash. But the defining feature here was the fact that both thieves entered a store called Watch Standard at around 2:30 on November 11 and simply pulled out a gun and demanded that the staff hand over the contents of the safe.

Although the robbery immediately triggered the dispatch of NYPD and SWAT teams, and sent “waves of panic through the streets,” New York Times reporter Al Baker notes that the two men were able to escape quite easily due to the noise and hubbub of the Veterans Day parade.

According to a recent NPR report, about one in every 16 jewelry stores were robbed in 2013, resulting in more than 1,300 individual robberies. But out of these robberies, only slightly more than 400 arrests were made for the crimes. With those stats in mind, it’s actually not surprising that the two men were able to escape from Watch Standard without being detected.

“Besides the obvious reasons of small, valuable and easy to transport, there seems to be an easy market for stolen jewelry. You can’t have an easy market without a demand for jewelry,” explains Ruthann Carroll, Marketing Director for Smyth Jewelers. “Value has always been the most important quality of jewelry and that drives all other motives for jewelry theft. Plus there may be a ‘little bit of glamour’ associated with jewelry theft.”

Perhaps the general public is still a bit mystified that this type of theft is still possible, despite so many modern advances in digital security systems and tracking systems. This incident certainly seems like something out of a mobster’s memoir, rather than a modern-day theft.

And as NPR notes, it’s almost surprising that so many thieves target jewelry stores, considering that any well-informed computer hacker can easily sneak into the POS systems of chain stores and subtly steal millions of dollars before being detected. Perhaps, however, there’s something special about fine jewelry that just can’t be found in digital bank account transactions and virtual credit card swipes.