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ORC 6-17-16




Westwood, CA: 9 charged with robbing 10 jewelry stores of $6 million in designer loot

A federal indictment unsealed Thursday charges nine men with planning and carrying out a string of armed smash-and-grab robberies that scooped up more than $6 million worth of Rolex and other high end watches at jewelry stores and businesses across Southern California.

The 10 crimes attributed to the men occurred at shopping centers in the San Fernando Valley, Thousand Oaks, the Westside, Orange County and in Torrance, where they snatched up 30 Rolex watches worth more than $450,000 from Ben Bridge Jewelers at Del Amo Fashion Center. During the crimes, masked men pointed guns at employees and customers, shattered display cases with hammers and grabbed up pricey designer watches and jewelry.

The ringleaders, authorities said, recruited young, financially desperate men to carry out the robberies, promising them huge sums of money, but later paying significantly less. According to the indictment, the crime spree began with the Aug. 3, 2015 robbery of Edward George Jewelers at Westfield Topanga Plaza in Canoga Park. Two men allegedly recruited by three of the suspects pepper-sprayed a security guard, smashed display cases and scooped up $59,105 in watches and engagement rings.

The indictment alleges the leader and organizers selected the stores and display cases to smash, and provided the guns, hammers, backpacks, masks, gloves and stolen cars used in the crimes. It alleges the organizers cased the stores with their recruits and showed them escape routes.

Harrison, NY: Vuitton bag theft tied to suspected nationwide crime ring
Three Chilean nationals accused of stealing a high-end tote bag from a woman's car are suspected to be connected to an organized crime ring whose activities spanned the country, local police say. The Harrison investigation began Sunday when a woman parked and locked her car at what police described as a "local recreation center." When she returned, the driver's-side door lock was damaged, her car windows were open, and her Louis Vuitton tote bag that had been left on the front passenger side floor was gone.

Police said they obtained video that showed at least one man and one woman were involved in the theft, and that they were later able to identify a vehicle involved, tracking it to a hotel in Corona, Queens. Investigators conducted surveillance at the property and ultimately arrested Jonathan Nievees Marrero, 29; Braulio Alejandro Besoain Ortiz, 25; and Valentina Naomi Vilches Ledezma, 19 - all of whom police said have "multiple aliases."

The three are suspected of being involved in identity thefts, production of fraudulent credit cards and other financial and property crimes around the country, according to Harrison police, who are now continuing the investigation with other law enforcement authorities, including U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

Groton, CT: Police arrest NY man for multi-state credit card fraud worth over $300,000
Police arrested a suspect they said stole hundreds of thousands of dollars in a multi-state credit card fraud scheme. Police said the scheme targeted stores throughout the northeast and that they are looking for another suspect. On Thursday at around 4:30 p.m., police responded to the Walmart store on Gold Star Highway in Groton. Police said witnesses provided a description of the suspect and the getaway car, and that the suspect's description matched a description of a person who is suspected of similar crimes throughout the northeast. The loss in those thefts is in excess of $300,000.

Maywood, IL: Man 'incapable of reform' gets 5 years for $40,000 credit card scam
According to the Illinois attorney general's office, which prosecuted the case, Murry used stolen identities to defraud suburban retailers like Costco, Macy's and Meijer. Murry would obtain credit card account numbers and then would add himself as an authorized secondary cardholder to obtain credit cards.DuPage court records indicate two felony convictions, one in 2000 for attempting to use a forged credit card receipt to steal a computer. In 2003, Murry was sent to prison for four years, after records say he used a fake credit card to steal $3,300 in jewelry from a Villa Park store.

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ORC 6-17-16
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