3-State Luxury Jewelry Theft Ring Busted, Feds Say

NEW YORK (AP) -

More than a million dollars in watches — mostly from a Cartier store in Manhattan — were snatched from luxury jewelry shops in New York, New Jersey and Virginia before authorities say they were able to arrest a smash-and-grab crew of four men.

Two of the suspects stole more than $700,000 in timepieces from the Cartier store. The four were charged in federal court in Manhattan with conspiracy to commit robbery.

Authorities say they terrorized customers and employees by smashing display cases with hammers and stealing high-end timepieces. The break in the case came when two men were arrested shortly after they brazenly walked into the Manhattan Cartier store Jan. 30 and stole watches.

In one robbery, thieves used a hand-held stun gun to subdue a store employee before fleeing with more than $100,000 in watches. Video surveillance and interviews with victims showed that the defendants first visited each store to study its layout and where high-end merchandise was displayed.