3 suspects at large following $20,000 jewelry theft in St. George

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Daily News— Three suspects are at large after more than $20,000 in merchandise was stolen from a jewelry store on Red Cliffs Drive in St. George in what police called a “distraction theft.”

Shortly after 3 p.m. Wednesday, officers were dispatched to a theft reported at a jewelry store on Red Cliffs Drive in St. George. Officers arrived to learn that $20,000 in jewelry reportedly was stolen from the store.

Detectives were called out to process the scene, efforts that continued for several hours as they collected evidence, surveillance footage and other information, St. George Police Detective Zack Bahlmann told St. George News in an email.

At the time of the incident, authorities say three suspects entered the store and employed a series of distractions and diversions wherein the suspects would ask to see certain items while the other suspects were busy diverting the employee’s attention away. While the employee was distracted, the items being looked at were either pocketed or concealed.

Investigators also found that the suspects flashed “large amounts of cash” as they entered the store and then proceeded to offer multiple payment methods.

The staff was then kept busy answering questions while the other suspects pocketed the merchandise using the “sleight of hand” method, according to detectives.

Bahlmann also told St. George News these types of thefts are referred to as “distraction thefts” and typically involve traveling groups that enter an area and go from store to store using this type of method to steal items. He also said this type of criminal activity is being reported across the country.

In general, he said these traveling groups have no ties to the area where the thefts take place, and once they have hit one or more locations, they leave the area. St. George has had a few of these groups hit businesses in the region, he added.

Bahlmann said the Jewelers’ Security Alliance has additional information relating to these types of crimes, including “grab and run” thefts, armed robberies and other jewelry store-related crimes, as well as security tips and safety information that can be found on the site.

The website also provides information on a number of crimes involving jewelry stores, including a similar distraction crime reported in Tennessee last year involving two women that entered the store and used a series of distractions to steal more than $27,000 in jewelry.



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