Police search for OC gold-switching thieves

FULLERTON, Calif. Surveillance video shows one suspect distracting a store owner who's just tested their gold jewelry and is quoting a price. The second suspect then calmly grabs the bag containing real jewelry and switches it with another one in his pocket containing fake gold.

"People operating this kind of confidence game are not first-time offenders," said Fullerton Police Sgt. Andrew Goodrich.

It happened last month at All Phases Jewelry in Fullerton. Police say the suspects left with several thousand dollars in cash for their gold before the owner noticed the switch.

"By the time he went out to look they were getting into their newer model gray minivan and were driving off," said Goodrich.

The bait-and-switch was pulled in August right after OC Gold opened in Garden Grove.

The store owner doesn't want his identity known since police are still looking for suspects who brought in $10,000 worth of gold chains and pendants. The owners tested the gold. It was real.

They wanted cash. When the owner went to get cash, the two men left, then returned and insisted he re-test just a few pieces. After getting the cash the suspects quickly left.

"Both male Hispanics, one in mid-20s, the other in mid-30s. Both have stocky builds," said Garden Grove Police Detective Pete Garcia.

In Fullerton, the suspects are described as Hispanic, between 28 and 35 years old, 5-foot-2 to 5-foot-4. One suspect has tattoos on both arms. One reads "Salgado," the other "Estrada." He also has a tattoo of lips and "my love" written on his neck.

Police says the suspects in the Garden Grove case are not the same as the Fullerton case. But police are investigating to see if they may be working together in a crew of thieves. If you recognize the suspects, you're asked to call Fullerton Police at (714) 738-6715 or Garden Grove Police at (714) 741-5830.

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