FALLS CHURCH, Va. - A jewelry store heist in Falls Church now has police piecing together a cross country spree of similar robberies they believe were committed by the same suspects.
Now, detectives in California, Pennsylvania – and now Virginia – are working together to find them.
The latest theft happened on Nov. 3 as the owner of BT Jewelers had other customers in his Falls Church store, and he had no idea he had been robbed until two days later.
Surveillance footage from Tony Nguyen's store at around 1:30 p.m. shows seven people walking inside the business. Six of them distracted the owner while one of the women ducked underneath a door behind the counter and crawled her way to the back room and packed her skirt with items from an open safe. She was able to get away with about $200,000 in cash and jewelry after going to the back room twice.
A detective told FOX 5 that similar incidents have happened in two other states within the last six months.
On June 14 at Honolulu Jewelers in Glendale, California, surveillance video from that robbery shows a group of six people distracting sales associates while a seventh woman slips away and makes a swift move to the back of the store. She then grabs jewelry from the safe and almost goes unnoticed, but is eventually bconfronted by an employee. Soon after, the suspects bolt out of the store and run into an alley, getting away with $300,000 to $400,000 in jewelry.
In Pennsylvania, the suspects used the same brazen tactics and got away with $100,000 from Dave's Collectables on Oct. 14.
Police in all three states are now working to connect the dots before the thieves move in on another small business owner.
“I feel scared right now,” said Nguyen. “If they come in [with] too many people like that, maybe they can harm me real bad. If I noticed them, maybe they can kill me and do something real bad too, so better I have to quit or to retire.”
This incident has left Nguyen extremely uncomfortable in the store alone so he plans to shut it down in about two months after 30 years of business.
“Like you and me have a job, their job is to go and scope out jewelry stores or pawn shops, distract the owners and proceed to steal from them whatever they can,” said Falls Church Police Det. Kevin Ankney. “Without a doubt, it is going to continue until they are caught.”
Police believe the suspects got away in a 2004-2010 Honda Odyssey after leaving the Falls Church jewelry store.
Anyone with any information is asked to contact the Falls Church Police Department at 703-248-5238.