White stolen Honda key to arrests in jewelry store robbery spree

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ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WHEC) – A stolen white Honda SUV was one of the keys to breaking a jewelry store crime spree that police say was getting more aggressive and dangerous.

Police believe three men stole the SUV on New Year’s Eve and starting in the middle of January proceeded to hit six or seven jewelry stores in a week and a half, robbed two other people and stole about $40,000 worth of jewelry.

And stolen SUV was central to it all.

"This Honda HRV kept showing up at (the crime scenes)," Sgt. C.J. Zimmerman of the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office said.

Sgt. Zimmerman says the three men went into a store, asked to try on jewelry, created a distraction and ran out.
Police say robberies started on January 15th and happened again on the 19th, 23rd and 24th.
The locations were in Greece, Webster, Pittsford and Ontario County.

"The very next day they went to Kay Jewelers in Webster where they got away with over $12,000 jewelry. Same pattern," Zimmerman said. "Again, the stolen vehicles were being used."

Zimmerman says the trio stole a second car in Penfield on January 18th.

"There are gangs throughout the country that prey on jewelry stores as these suspects did," said John Kennedy, president of the Jewelers Security Alliance which helps stores with crime prevention and works with the FBI.

Brean: "What do the thieves do with those expensive pieces of jewelry?"
John Kennedy, Jewelers Security Alliance: "They fence them."

That means they sell them to people willing to buy stolen goods.

Brean: "If one of these thieves steals let’s say an $8,000 ring. How much to you think they’re selling that for to these fencers or to other entities?"
John Kennedy, Jewelers Security Alliance: "They might get $1,000. They might get $500. A lot of them are desperate. They want the money right away and they’ll settle for a tremendous haircut."

I went to a private jewelry store in Webster where, since the robberies started, they started locking the door.
"We wanted to make sure we were safe," said owner Anne Gabel.

Gabel wished police gave the stores a warning.
"Just a hey this happened, you might want to be a little bit more vigilant about what you’re doing," she said.
So I took that concern to the sheriff’s office.

Brean: "They wondered whether or not law enforcement could have warned jewelry stores that something was going on when you suspected something was going on. And they didn’t get that warning."

Sgt. C.J. Zimmerman, MCSO: "So as far as that goes, this was a developing investigation. January 23rd was the third store and that was when we started looking and realizing there is a pattern and then I would say three days later we had them in custody."

About $40,000 worth of jewelry was stolen. About $24,000 has been recovered, most of it found in local pawn shops.