NEW YORK – Police say they have arrested one member of a crew of brazen jewel thieves responsible for a string of at least 18 heists across New York City. In one of the incidents that was caught on camera, they used a sledgehammer to smash the front window of a Bronx jewelry store before making off with the valuables.
The NYPD announced the arrest of 28-year-old Ali Traore in connection with the cases. The hunt continues for more suspects.
Video released by the NYPD shows a man wearing gloves, a mask, and a black hoodie rushing to the window of a jewelry store on White Plains Road in Pelham Parkway around 3:55 p.m. on Sunday.
The man swings a sledgehammer several times to bash a hole in the plate glass window and then he and another man grab as much jewelry as they can before the metal shutter gate lowers, the video shows.
Yailin Reyes was working inside MNP Jewelers when it happened.
“All of a sudden, we heard the boom and I looked at the window,” she said. “He could’ve gotten in here and harmed us but thankfully nothing else happened.”
Surveillance video from inside the store shows how startled she and her coworkers were. But Reyes quickly thought to lower the gate.
The thieves managed to steal 10 gold chains and five gold pendants, valued at about $20,000, and then escaped in a black BMW 5-series four-door sedan, police said.
Then on Monday at around 3 p.m., six thieves hit Dorian’s Jewelry on Fifth Avenue near 55th Street in Sunset Park, Brooklyn, police said. The men used sledgehammers and a pickax to smash through the store’s front window and then stole more $180,000 in gold jewelry, police said. They escaped in a black Honda Accord and a BMW sedan similar to the one in the Pelham Parkway robbery.
The NYPD said these two brazen robberies are among 18 so far in the Bronx, Brooklyn, and Queens that started on Feb. 25 and could be the work of the same crew. In some cases, they escape from the scene in a black BMW. Police said a blue four-door sedan is also connected.
Police describe the thieves as men in their 20s and 30s. To date, they have stolen nearly $250,000 in jewelry, the NYPD said.