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JCPenney stores robbed across SoCal

May 12, 2008 12:00:00 AM PDT
There has been a rash of burglaries targeting JCPenney stores in Southern California and across the state. More than $2 million worth of gold jewelery has been stolen.Dark surveillance video taken inside a JCPenney's store in Laguna Hills last Friday, shows three men running down an escalator inside the store. The early morning robbery is the most recent burglary in a crime spree that started in 2006, in Palm Desert.

One suspect is seen leaping over a glass jewelry case in the JCPenney desert store.

The robber has a mask over his face and gloves on his hands. There were two suspects during this particular robbery.

They used crowbars to get into the jewelry cases to steal the gold.

"They take only gold jewelry. Sometimes they leave other jewelry aside, which means they're either melting down the jewelry or fencing it rather quickly," said Jim Amormino of the Orange County Sheriff's Department.

Authorities say ten JCPenney's in California have been burglarized, including two in Orange County and one attempted burglary at a store in Santa Ana. The loss so far is estimated at $2.5 million.

Sometimes only two suspects are seen and in other cases four are at work. Officials say they strike between 2:00 a.m. and 5 a.m., Wednesday to Saturday. And they stay inside the store for only four to five minutes.

"It could be anyone. It could be an ex-employee or a current employee. It does appear to be someone that's familiar with the operation and the merchandise that they have," said Amormino.

The suspects also appear to be agile, easily stepping up and over the counters.

Authorities so far, don't know why JCPenney is the primary target. As for why they might be taking only gold jewelry, officials say it's easy to fence.

The burglaries have increased as the price of gold also goes up.

"That's one factor that may play into it. The reason they're so selective and only take gold jewelry is because gold sells for approximately $1,000 an ounce," said Amormino.

A $20,000 reward has been offered for information leading to an arrest or conviction of the suspects, Amormino said.

 

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