Suspect in diamond theft ID’d by police
Aspen Times Staff Writer
Police have identified a suspect in the theft of diamonds from an Aspen jewelry store last week.
Branko Bagari, 26, of Slovenia is wanted by police for allegedly taking over $800,000 worth of diamonds from Hochfield Jewelers last Tuesday afternoon. On Monday police filed a search warrant detailing items found in the suspects’ vehicle, abandoned while two suspects were fleeing police.
According to the search warrant, police found a receipt from American Motels bearing Bagari’s name in the glove box of the 1983 Toyota Tercel. Police also took fingerprints from the vehicle. Aspen Police Detective Brian Heeney said he obtained a copy of Bagari’s passport and the photo matches the description of the suspect.
The owner of Hochfield Jewelers, Ron Hochfield, told police he had been showing a diamond bracelet and necklace to a male customer when the man grabbed the jewelry out of his hand and ran out of the store. Hochfield ran after him and told police he saw the man getting into a tan-colored hatchback driven by another man.
The stolen bracelet, containing 20 round diamonds, has a total diamond weight of 48.04 carats and is valued at $650,000. The stolen necklace has a total diamond weight of 38.28 carats and a value of $188,000.
Police found the abandoned car in an alley in the 800 block of East Durant. The temporary license tag on the vehicle was assigned to Rohac Motors of Englewood, Colo.
According to the search warrant: On June 20, a salesman from Rohac Motors told police he had sold the vehicle to two Italian males a few days previously for $600 cash. He said the first male was about 5 feet 9 inches tall, 170 to 175 pounds, with dark brown hair and brown eyes, and was well-dressed and spoke English.
The salesman said the second male was 5 feet 6 inches tall, 135 to 140 pounds with a bad complexion, didn’t speak English and provided an international driver’s license with the name Bagmi Branko.
The salesman also told police the taller man said both men would be happy if the car ran 400 miles and lasted for about a month.
Heeney said the warrant issued for Bagari charges the Slovenian national with theft and conspiracy to commit theft.
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Just in time for Halloween, the Pitkin County Board of Health voted 4-2 to reduce the size of informal gatherings from 10 to five for at least the next two weeks starting Friday. According to the public health director, officials are currently investigating 11 outbreaks in Pitkin County.