Austin TX. Nov. 1, 2007
Burglars took sledgehammers into Barton Creek Square Mall for a quick Rolex heist.
Though customers were shopping inside the store, the four men got away with thousands of dollars in watches.
It happened at Tuesday at 8 p.m. at the Ben Bridge jewelry store, and it was caught on tape. The burglars walked straight toward the Rolex watch case, smashed the glass with sledgehammers and grabbed a couple dozen Rolex watches before leaving.
"The mall was open for business," said Austin Police Department Detective Matt Greer. "There were people inside the store at the time. They came in and basically just smashed the cases, took the jewelry and left." Investigators believe the four men walked a couple hundred feet through the mall with the sledgehammers in hand before Ben Bridge cameras caught them stealing the watches and leaving.
"I'd call it bold," said Greer.
Police said the men likely cased the store ahead of time, because they seemed to know exactly what they wanted and worked fast.
The suspects wore hooded sweatshirts and hats.
"They're described as dark-skinned males, and so we're not sure at this point if they're Hispanic or black," said Greer. Witnesses said the men were driving a red- or orange-colored sports utility vehicle with a temporary license plate.
Detectives are asking anyone with information about this case to call APD.
Police said as the holidays approach, it becomes easier to sell hot items on the black market.
Austin could see more smash-and-grab cases in the next couple of weeks. Police are also on the lookout for another smash-and-grab suspect who hit the Blue Elephant Boutique on N. Lamar Boulevard in the Central Market shopping center.
Police said around 5 a.m. Monday, the suspects stole $23,000 worth of designer jeans and shirts, but the majority of the stolen merchandise was recovered.
Austin police pursued an SUV that was leaving the parking lot and arrested the driver, Demonica Deon Runnels, who crashed the vehicle into a tree in West Austin.
Police said an accomplice got away from the crime scene and is still at large.