WaHi Man Arrested for Plaza Hotel Jewel Theft

By Tom Liddy on November 6, 2011 7:30pm 

The exterior of the Plaza Hotel.
The exterior of the Plaza Hotel.
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Chris Hondros/Getty Images

MANHATTAN — A trench coat-wearing Washington Heights ex-con was picked up for stealing jewels and other valuables from the Plaza Hotel room of a Dubai princess, police sources said.

James Bennett, 45, was arrested on Nov. 2 as part of an investigation into an Oct. 24 burglary at the London Hotel on West 54th Street, near Seventh Avenue.

When he was being questioned about that case, police searched his home and allegedly found $35,000 in loot that was stolen from the room of Princess Arwa Al Qassimi at the Plaza on Oct. 30 — including jewelry, an iPad and phone.

Some $250,000 in valuables, including a $100,000 Rolex, had been taken from the suite, authorities said, but it was not clear what happened to the rest of the items.

James — who served more than three years for burglary beginning in May 2007 and has eight prior arrests dating back to 1996 — was charged with burglary, grand larceny and criminal possession of stolen property in the Plaza case, police said.

He faces burglary charges for the alleged incident at the London Hotel, in which he allegedly tried to take employee checks.

According to the criminal complaint, the suspect was spotted on surveillance footage wearing a green trench coat inside the London Hotel.

When a worker approached him, Bennett, who had been near a file cabinet, walked away, the court documents say.

About a half-hour later, missing payroll checks were found on top of an ice machine that the suspect had passed on his way out.

Investigators found a trench coat matching the description of the one used in the burglary at Bennett's home, according to court documents.

The London Hotel did not immediately respond to an email for comment.

The London Hotel on West 54th Street.
The London Hotel on West 54th Street.
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Brad Barket/Getty Images

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