Houston, the Crown Jewel?

A string of jewelry thefts in Houston may ba part of a bigger picture! According to the FBI, "the thieves blocked in cars and broke out windows to scare jewelry salesmen and couriers into submission before whisking away their merchandise," said Brian Ritchie of the FBI. "They were focused enough to frisk backs and find diamond pouches hidden away in socks."

 

Thieves made off with $500,000 in jewelry in Arkansas on Tuesday. Agents said that robbery, which matched two others in June in Pine Bluff, Ark., and Nashville, Tenn., shares similarities with a string of thefts in Houston.

 

 The Houston thefts have netted thieves at least $3.5 million worth of jewelry.  WOW!!! and apparently it's all international!

 

"In cases like these, it's standard investigative procedure for the FBI to check other FBI field offices for similar types of crimes," said Steve Frazier, a spokesman for the FBI's Little Rock field office. "We are aware that Houston has reported several jewelry heists in their area and, as part of this investigation, we'll be communicating with them and other offices to help us with our investigation."

 

In Houston, police report at least six robberies of jewelry salesmen and couriers since April. One theft in May theft netted nearly $1.5 million in diamonds.

 

Officers said the thieves used pepper spray, pistol-whipping and knives to threaten their victims.

 

FBI and police suspect the thefts could be part of what the FBI refers to as "South American Theft Groups" targeting diamond couriers. Agent said the groups, crewed by illegal immigrants from countries such as Colombia, Ecuador and Peru, stake out traveling salesmen and jewelry shows, sometimes traveling across the country for scores.

 

Investigators recently arrested three Colombian nationals loitering around Houston-area jewelry stores. Detectives said the men were being held for illegally re-entering the United States but were being questioned about potential involvement in the robberies.

RandomLori Freese