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Man Walks Out of Tiffany Store With Necklaces Worth $100,000
By Susanna Kim
While organized retail crime has become a growing trend that vexes businesses, what appears to be an old-fashioned five-finger discount recently plagued the mother of all jewelry retailers, Tiffany & Co.
On June 7 at about 3 p.m., a smartly dressed man was captured on surveillance video walking into the flagship Tiffany store on Fifth Avenue, talking to a salesperson, and then exiting the store with two necklaces, reportedly worth about $100,000 total.
The New York City Police Department said the suspect engaged an employee in conversation behind the jewelry counter near a store exit. The surveillance video shows the man walking out the door when the employee turned away from him.
The police said no injuries were reported, and the suspect was wanted for grand larceny.
A spokesman for Tiffany & Co. said the company “is fully cooperating with the authorities, and as this is an ongoing investigation, we cannot comment any further.”
Police urge anyone with information to call the NYPD’s Crime Stoppers Hotline at 800-577-TIPS, or submit a tip at NYPDCrimeStoppers.com.
The police do not yet know if the suspect was acting alone or if the heist was part of an organized effort.
Thomas Martin, president of Martin Investigative Services, a private and corporate investigation firm headquartered in Newport Beach, Calif., said he wasn’t surprised by the Tiffany & Co. theft, given the high-profile charges against Lindsay Lohan. The actress pleaded no contest to a misdemeanor charge of taking a $2,500 necklace from a jewelry store in Los Angeles in May 2011.
Martin said basic security comes down to worker training.
“It’s pretty much common sense that you shouldn’t let out two or three items in the case at the same time,” Martin said. “It’s all about employee training. Why go in with a gun when you can just walk in with your hand?”
A survey by the National Retail Federation found eight of 10 retailers said that organized retail crime activity had increased in the past three years. The federation said groups target department and specialty stores for such items as designer clothing, handbags, lingerie and accessories, which they can sell for near-retail prices.
Last December, three thieves smashed the windows of a Jimmy Choo store in Chicago, which sells luxury women’s shoes. The thieves got away with an unknown amount of shoes and handbags in a four-door vehicle. The Jimmy Choo theft is still under investigation, according to the Chicago Police Department.
Mark Rubinstein found a diamond in the rough, and he’s looking for its owner.
Rubinstein, a resident of Coral Springs, Fla., was hunting for pythons in the Everglades earlier this year when he came across a gleaming piece of jewelry.
The gold, sapphire, and diamond jewel was partially melted and had nothing on it to signify its owner, according to Stephen Walker, a jeweler based in Andover, N.Y., who is helping Rubinstein to trace the piece to its original owner.
“He was walking along a levee. He’s going out in the swamp on the weekend looking for pythons, taking a fairly easy route, and he saw this thing off in the grass and it looked out of place,” said Walker, who is a specialist in Celtic jewelry.
“So he and his buddies pawed through the grass and after awhile found it. It’s a piece of gold with diamonds and sapphires,” he said. “The backstory is a mystery, because where he found it is in a debris field of one plane crash, a 1972 crash, and only a few hundred yards from where a ValuJet went down in 1996.”
Rubinstein did not immediately return calls for comment from ABC News.
Walker said that Rubinstein posted an image of the gem to a jewelry forum, where Walker and other jewelry experts saw it and tried to identify its cultural markers.
“The jewelers were all, what is it, what culture is it from, talking about the diamond surviving the heat, and I’m thinking, I’m sort of an expert on Celtic jewelry, Celtic crosses, and I weighed in and actually don’t think it’s Celtic. I think it’s more Middle Eastern, Greek or Russian,” he said.
The jewel was found in a part of the Everglades west of Fort Lauderdale where Eastern Flight 401, a New York flight heading for Miami, crashed in 1972, and ValuJet Flight 592, an Atlanta flight that caught fire and crashed in 1996. All 109 of the passengers and crew members on the ValuJet flight died in the blaze and crash, but 77 out of 176 people survived the Eastern flight crash.
Walker speculated that the jewel could have been from the ValuJet flight, as it showed partial melting that could have been caused in the fire.
Rubinstein then sent Walker some of his field notes and information about where the piece was found, and Walker began a campaign to get the word out about the lost jewel and try to find its owner. Rubinstein mailed the jewel to Walker, and he began sifting through leads trickling in about who the piece might belong to.
“We were contacted by somebody when it first came out who knew one of the dead on one of these flights. It sounds really plausible, but we’ve really been stymied about contacting anybody that knew them,” Walker said. “We don’t want to get somebody’s hopes up.”
Walker is now working with a retired law enforcement investigator to help ensure that the piece ends up in the hands of the owner’s family.
“We’re thinking we’ve got to get this where people can see it so someone can say, ‘Oh that belonged to my aunt’ or something,” he said.
He is collecting leads through his jewelry business, Walker Metalsmiths in Andover.