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Thieves steal USD 6 million jewels in Hollywood-style heist

New York: In a Hollywood-style New Year’s eve robbery, a trio of burglars broke into a Manhattan jewellery store whose owner was away in India and managed to flee with USD 6 million worth of precious gems.

Three hooded and masked men broke into the jewellery store on Sunday while 7,000 policemen were distracted protecting Times Square revellers just a few blocks away.

“They laid in wait until the ball dropped,” a law- enforcement source told the New York Post of the heist which appears to be an inside job. The source said the thieves “100 per cent” planned the heist to coincide with the ball drop.

They made off with around USD 6 million in gems and are still at large, police sources were quoted as saying.

The burglars were caught on video inside Gregg Ruth, a commercial jewellery store known for its rare yellow and pink diamonds.

One of the robbers, a bearded white male in a hood without a mask, looks straight into the camera during the heist, surveillance footage shows.

They came in through a freight entrance to the sixth floor business and then used a hammer and crowbar to break a lock, gaining access to a room containing four safes, the report said.

The gloved suspects removed diamond-encrusted and 18 karat gold bracelets, earrings and necklaces from two of the safes.

The safes were either already open or the burglars knew the combination, stuffing the pricey merchandise into several backpacks, sources were quoted as saying.

The two unopened safes contained another estimated USD 7 million in merchandise. The lock boxes were on loan to the wholesaler, who was in the process of building a more secure vault.

The footage shows one of the suspects talking on a cell phone while he is opening the safe, perhaps receiving the combination from a fourth person, the report said.

The trio then fled down a stairwell in the beige, 16- storey office tower that lacks any exterior signage about its sixth-floor tenant.

A person who works in the building said the owner was likely “embarrassed” by the incident.

“It’s a black eye for their company. They couldn’t secure it. That money, a lot of money it’s embarrassing,” the source said.

A police source was quoted as saying the owner is out of the country in India.