Suspect identified in $100k Aspen jewelry store robbery
Aspen police have positively identified at least one man involved in a nearly $100,000 downtown jewelry store robbery in September and a judge recently signed a warrant for his arrest, according to court documents.
An Aspen detective also was able to obtain tentative identification on the other four people thought to have participated in the robbery at Maja du Brul Jewelry in the 300 block of Hopkins Avenue. The store was referred to as Christopher Walling Jewelry in previous media reports.
The Aspen Times agreed to a request from the District Attorney’s Office not to release the names of the suspects or other identifying information because the warrant for the man remains active.
The robbery occurred Sept. 12 when three women in their 30s or 40s entered the store, followed soon after by an older man and woman. Video surveillance later showed the older man and subject of the arrest warrant take a pair of aquamarine and white gold earrings valued at $21,750 and a pair of pearl earrings valued at $28,000 from a case while a saleswoman was distracted by the other people, according to the arrest warrant affidavit filed in Pitkin County District Court.
One of the younger women — described as heavy-set with reddish brown hair — was caught on video taking a pendant that featured diamonds, sapphires, rubies, emeralds and gold valued at $45,240 from another case, again, while the saleswoman was distracted.
Police initially reported that the saleswoman caught the older man swiping a bracelet and grabbed it back from him before ordering the couple out of the store. The older woman began to make a scene about being accused of theft, though both left the store, Aspen police said at the time.
Aspen Detective Ritchie Zah entered information about the case — including photos — into an independent crime analysis group that helps identify suspects in “high-dollar jewelry thefts,” according to the affidavit. That led another jewelry store owner in another state to contact him and report that a similar-looking group attempted to run a similar scheme at his store.
Employees at that store didn’t fall for the ruse, partially because another jewelry store up the street called to warn them about the group, which had just visited the other store, according to the affidavit. The other jewelry store employee had become suspicious of the group, declined to open jewelry cases, then followed them out of the store and watched them congregate in front of the second jewelry store, the affidavit states.
Zah was able to positively identify the subject of the active arrest warrant after a detective in another city described as an expert in crimes committed by the “gypsy community” recognized the man, the affidavit states. Two of the women in the Aspen robbery were described by the saleswoman as appearing “gypsy-like,” according to the affidavit.
The man is charged with felony theft, according to the warrant signed in March by District Judge Chris Seldin. He has previously been arrested for robbery and felony larceny by other police departments in the United States, the warrant states.