Entries in Robbery (8)


Jewel Thief Busted After Posting Vacation Photos on Facebook

Greater Manchester Police(LONDON) -- A thief who stole over $100,000 worth of diamonds and pearls from a jeweler in Manchester, Britain, has been caught by police after he posted pictures of himself vacationing in Brazil and shopping on the streets of London.

Charles Rodriguez, 31, is a Colombian man who police believe is a member of the crime gang the Latin Kings.  In October 2011, along with another man, he allegedly beat a jeweler who had been returning from a sales trip.

The two stole the keys to his car and opened his trunk, then made off with two briefcases containing diamonds and pearls worth more than £80,000, according to Manchester City Police.

Investigators combed CCTV footage, which allegedly revealed that Rodriguez had followed the man prior to the attack.  Investigators also searched telecommunications and social media, which indicated he left the U.K. with a false passport for a vacation to Rio de Janeiro, then headed to Colombia, investigators said.

Police said his Facebook page was “littered with pictures” of his trip to Rio.

“Rodriguez’s arrogance was astonishing.  After committing an appalling attack on a jewellery trader, he fled the country to his native Colombia where he knew he could not be extradited,” Detective Sergeant Roger Smethurst said in a statement.  “However, his lack of remorse was evident by the fact he brazenly posted sightseeing pictures from Brazil -- at a time when he was on the run -- on his Facebook page.”

Though the Manchester police were aware of Rodriguez’s whereabouts, Colombia is a non-extradition country for the U.K.  Investigators had to bide their time, waiting for him to slip up.

In 2012, Rodriguez reentered the U.K. with a false passport.  He even posted photos of himself Christmas shopping and sightseeing around London.  Rodriguez was stopped by London police for driving suspiciously.  Though he faked his name, fingerprinting revealed his identity.

“Rodriguez must have thought he was above the law and untouchable because even when he finally returned to the U.K., knowing he was still wanted, he still posted pictures of himself Christmas shopping in London on his Facebook page,” Smethurst said.

Rodriguez pleaded guilty to robbery at a hearing this week.  He has been ordered to serve five years and four months in jail.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


McDonald’s Installing Spray-Dousing Security Systems

Tim Boyle/Getty Images(SYDNEY) -- Thieves Down Under might get a little something extra the next time they rob a McDonald’s.

In an effort to crack down on robberies at McDonald’s in Sydney, the company has hired SelectaDNA, a British security firm, to install a system that sprays a solution on would-be thieves on their way out the door of the fast-food outlets that can later be used to identify the culprits.

A handful of McDonald’s locations have been hit in the past few weeks by thieves who snatch more than just a Big Mac. Now the company hopes the newly installed systems will deter robbers from stealing from the Golden Arches.

“A spokesperson for McDonald’s said the company will increase the use of SelectaDNA in stores all over the country after a successful trial in their six busiest Sydney restaurants was launched in January last year,” The Sydney Morning Herald reported. "The move comes as police ramp up their patrols of local McDonald’s restaurants after a spate of robberies across Sydney during the Christmas and New Year period.”

The Intruder Spray solution was introduced in 2008 and “contains a UV tracer and a unique DNA code, linking them irrefutably to the crime scene,” according to SelectaDNA’s website.

Once triggered by a thief, the spray will fall onto intruders as they enter a business or home.  It can be synced to a panic-button or to any alarm system within a business or home. The solution is both harmless and too small to be seen but will stay on an intruder for weeks, “clinging to fibers and sitting in the creases of the skin,” according to the website.

With the installation of this high-technology security system, SelectaDNA says it will cut theft and burglaries significantly.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Thieves Smash Wall, Miss Jewelry Store, Rob KFC

Aaron M. Sprecher/Bloomberg via Getty Images(BEAUDESERT, Australia) -- In a jewelry heist gone incredibly wrong, just after 8 a.m. on New Year’s Eve, two thieves planned to rob Wrights Jewelers in Beaudesert, Australia, about 45 miles south of Brisbane.  But instead they knocked through the wrong wall and found themselves inside a Kentucky Fried Chicken outlet next door.

Police say the suspects, Dwayne Doolan and Peter Welsh, were prepared to raid a store full of precious stones and gems. Instead, they found themselves surrounded by trays of the Colonel’s Original Recipe and Extra Crispy chicken as well as stares from surprised workers after smashing through the wrong block wall in a restroom.

But they quickly regrouped and robbed the fast food joint instead, police said.

The Queensland Police Service released a statement saying, “The men threatened staff with a metal bar and made demands for cash. Two female employees complied and handed over a sum of cash to the men.”

After robbing the fast food chain, the thieves left on foot with $2,600.

No one was hurt in the armed robbery, police said.

Queensland police arrested the two men in connection with the armed robbery. In the police report, one man is charged with one count of armed robbery and two counts of stealing. The other suspect is charged with “one count of armed robbery, two counts of stealing, one enter premises with intent to commit offense and one attempted enter premises with intent to commit indictable offence.”

Both suspects appeared in the Southport Magistrates Court on Jan. 3. One suspect made bail and returned to court on Jan. 5 while the other remained in custody.

Sgt. Barry McErlean with Queensland Police said, “Both have been remanded to appear again on March 5.”

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Art Thieves in South Africa Toss Most Valuable Piece

Comstock/Thinkstock(PRETORIA, South Africa) -- Art thieves who apparently weren’t art lovers robbed the Pretoria Art Museum of five paintings worth more than $2 million.  But they tossed a sixth work -- the most valuable piece in their haul -- on the ground and left it behind.

“My first reaction was, ‘Oh my God, I can’t believe that somebody just walked in and walked out with a whole lot of artworks,’” said Imre Lamprecht, head of the art department at South African art auction house Stephan Welz & Co.

Museum management told the Beeld newspaper that the robbers pretended to be museum visitors before they pulled out guns and a “shopping list” of paintings, which they forced an employee to help them find.  They left with five paintings by prominent South African artists, including works by Irma Stern and Gerard Sekoto, each worth about $1 million.

“All the artists they took are artists who are doing brilliantly in South Africa and internationally,” said Lamprecht.  “These works are some of the best works they would have produced.”

As the thieves made their escape, they tossed a sixth painting on the ground outside the museum, possibly because it did not fit into their getaway car.  Stern’s “Two Malay Musicians,” worth about $1.4 million, was recovered.

“Obviously these thieves didn’t know anything about art because that is not the painting whoever hired them would want them to leave behind,” said Lamprecht.

She said the late Stern is probably the most famous of the artists whose work is on display at the museum.  Her expressionism masterpiece “Arab Priest” sold for nearly $5 million last year.

Lamprecht said even though the value of South African art has risen since the end of apartheid, security at public museums is severely lacking.  Many museums have outdated security systems and no guards.

“I hope the government learns a lesson and puts in security structures that keep our art and heritage safe,” said Lamprecht.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Ax-Wielding Motorcyclists Raid London Jewelry Store

ABC News(LONDON) -- Six men armed with axes and bats drove through a London shopping mall on motorcycles and raided a jewelry store this week in a robbery reminiscent of a Hollywood movie, officials said.

Police are looking for the men, who were dressed in black and wearing crash helmets and visors to conceal their identities, after they raced through the Brent Cross shopping center Tuesday morning.

The three motorbikes pulled up in front of a Fraser Hart jewelry store when three of the men jumped off the back of the bikes and raided the store of valuable jewels.  They nabbed Cartiers, Rolexes and hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of watches, according to police.

Shoppers watched in horror from a distance as the remaining three men waited outside the store with the motorcycles.  The scene was reminiscent of the crime thriller The Italian Job.

“We looked out and we saw six men, two on each bike, pull up outside Fraser Hart and then they pulled out an ax and they were getting into Fraser Hart and telling everyone to stay back,” mall employee Claire Smalley told BBC News.

“It was really scary and I’ve got young girls that work for us and it really wasn’t a pleasant experience.  We had to bolt the doors quickly,” she added.

Police recovered the motorbikes at a nearby golf course less than an hour after the robbery.  No one was injured in the raid but an elderly man was treated on the scene for shock.

The raid began 15 minutes after the mall opened to shoppers.  The three motorcycles raced through the mall and stopped in front of Fraser Hart.

Surveillance video caught the entire scene unfolding.  It took two minutes.  One of the robbers can be seen through the store’s window grabbing at jewelry on display and throwing it into a black sack.

One of the men waiting outside the store used his ax to deter people from coming near the scene by holding it in the air as if he would swing it.  He then smashed a piece of glass railing across from the store’s entrance.

Another store adjacent to Fraser Hart immediately pulled down its security gate while the other three robbers remained outside the jewelry store.

“It was very frightening.  I could not believe it was happening,” Sue Bangs, who was in a different store at the time of the robbery, told BBC News.  “All the shops suddenly put down their shutters and we were locked in for a while.  My heart was pounding.”

The robbers emerged from the store and hopped back on the waiting motorbikes before speeding out of the camera’s view.

The day before the mall was hit, a motorcycle gang smashed the windows of a pawn shop in the same area, stuffing their pockets with loot.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Teeth Thief Hits Graves of Great Composers in Austria

Ingram Publishing/Thinkstock(VIENNA) -- Dentures of two of the world's most famous composers have allegedly been stolen from their graves by a Slovak man who boasts of his crimes on YouTube saying he intends to use the purloined choppers to start a museum.

Ondrej Jajcaj, the self confessed thief, says the teeth he extracted from the tombs of the famous 19th century composers Johann Strauss and Johannes Brahms will be part of an exhibition of hundreds of objects plundered from more ordinary graves.

The man was identified in Austrian media reports simply by his initials, O.J.  But a search on the Internet reveals Ondrej Jajcaj, who calls himself the Freedom Undertaker, taking his Internet viewers on a tour of "graves of honor" in the Viennese Central Cemetery, saying that someone has opened the crypts, pointing out fresh dirt uncovered around the tombs.

In one video, Jajcaj gives a tour of his macabre collection of stolen teeth and at one point narrates: "And now, we come to the major pedestal.  On the top are the teeth of Johann Strauss Jr.  To the left there are dentures of his wife Adele Strauss.  To the right, we have rubber prosthesis of Johannes Brahms.  Here, I, as an amateur have managed to build illegal historical collection of dental works."

In 2008, cemetery officials reported that some graves had been tampered with.  As a result, Jajcaj was investigated by Vienna prosecutors for "disturbing the peace of the dead," but they dropped the case because the statute of limitations had run out.

Austrian police again learned of the dastardly dental work when the alleged grave robber released videos bragging about his thefts.

Austrian cops started an investigation in May and they found the claims on the video were true -- the famous musicians' teeth had been removed.

The thief could be facing from six months up to 10 years of prison, claims Thomas Vecsey of the Vienna state prosecutor's office.

"We hope we can charge him with burglary, disturbing the peace of the dead and other related crimes," he told ABC News.  "But the fact that he is not Austrian and does not reside in Austria, complicates things."

He also said that the thefts took place in 2002, which may make them too old to prosecute.

The Federal Criminal Police Office, the Austrian equivalent of the FBI, is checking other graves in the cemetery of such great Viennese composers as Ludwig von Beethoven, Franz Schubert and Arnold Schoenberg.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Prince Harry May Testify over Robbery He Helped Foil

JSN Photography/WireImage(LONDON) -- Prince Harry may soon appear in a London courtroom after coming to the aid of a friend being robbed.

The 27-year-old prince was on the phone with childhood friend Thomas van Straubenzee, 28, around 8:30 p.m. on Nov. 30 when van Straubenzee’s mobile phone was stolen.

Overhearing the robbery, Harry, with his security guard in tow, drove to where he believed van Straubenzee was calling him from, Battersea, in Southwest London.  When he could not find his friend there, Harry went to the local police station, where, palace officials confirm, he gave a witness statement.

Police recovered van Straubenzee’s phone and arrested a man in connection.  He has been released on bail and will appear in court in January, where he may face the prince.

“He will do whatever he needs to do on behalf of his friend to bring the alleged criminals to justice,” a representative for Clarence House, Prince Harry’s residence, said of the potential for royal testimony.  “He would do whatever he’s asked to do.”

Harry, an army attack helicopter pilot, recently returned to England from a two-month stay in the U.S. where he underwent an intense Apache helicopter training in California and Arizona.

His latest heroics in London place him in the royal-to-the-rescue footsteps of his older brother, Prince William, who came to the aid of Russian sailors last month.  The prince was at work at his day job --  co-piloting a rescue helicopter -- when he received a distress call from the seamen who were stranded in the Irish Sea after their cargo vessel broke up in rough waters and sank, killing at least one crew member. Prince William's helicopter carried several Russian sailors to safety.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Woman, 75, Breaks Up Jewelry Heist with Handbag

Photo Courtesy - ABC News(NORTHAMPTON, England) -- A 75-year-old woman rushed into action Monday when six robbers, with sledgehammers, attempted a smash-and-grab at a jewelry store in Northampton, England. The woman, armed with only her handbag, took on the men, breaking up the robbery and causing them to flee without taking anything.

"At first I thought one of them was being set upon by three others....I was not going to stand by and watch somebody take a beating or worse so I tried to intervene," the grandmother told the Daily Mail. "What concerned me was that too many people just stood around watching as if they were in shock and nobody was doing anything. ... When I got closer to them I realized it was a robbery and then I was even more angry that they felt they could get away with what they were doing in broad daylight."

Some newspapers have given the elderly woman, who wishes to remain anonymous, the nickname Super Granny. Because of her actions no one was injured and one of the robbers was detained by other members of the public at the scene. Police were later able to arrest three men, but are still looking for two other suspects.

Super Granny's remarkable feat was captured on video and uploaded to the Internet, instantly catapulting the private grandmother to international stardom.

"I'm not a hero and it was maybe foolish of me to get involved but somebody had to do something," she told the Daily Mail. "Now I just want to be left in peace. I feel very uncomfortable with all the press and media attention."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio