Jewelry Store Bandits Lead Cops on Wild Chase
By DNAinfo Staff on April 5, 2012 5:01pm |
By Sonja Sharp, Trevor Kapp and Patrick Hedlund
NOHO — It was more "Small Time Crooks" than "Ocean's Eleven."
A group of Jaguar-driving bandits led police on a wild chase Downtown Thursday after sticking up a jewelry store on the Bowery and making off with a $60,000 diamond bracelet, authorities and witnesses said.
But their great escape ended blocks away when the suspects careened into a cab in a Hollywood-style finish that stunned passersby.
The harried heist unfolded about 11:30 a.m., when three of the four suspects entered a jewelry store at 82 Bowery, near Hester Street, and held up the shop in front of panicked customers who tried to hide, police said.
John Critelli, 58, the owner of Lauren Jewelry, said that the thieves targeted his counter first.
''One of them had a gun outside at the front of the door," he said. "One of the guys was reaching over the counter."
When they couldn't get access to his jewels, they moved on to ANI Jewelry, a different counter within the store, and allegedly grabbed some of their merchandise.
''As soon as they walked in, they said, 'Nobody move.' I saw only one had a gun. They pulled up their shirts to cover their face," said Paul, the owner of ANI. "Two guys came to my place and tried to open the showcase.''
The thieves reached into the case and grabbed some of the diamond bracelets, Paul added.
''Within 20 seconds, they were outside already, so I chased them outside and saw them get in a car on Bowery," said Critelli.
''I get so pissed off when people point guns at you...and I just figured let me try and catch them.''
Critelli gave chase on foot, but soon jumped into a cop car that was going after the suspects.
Officers who spotted the vehicle tried to stop the robbers after they fled the store, but the suspects sped off, getting stuck in traffic at one point.
"They got stuck on Grand Street when a car was in front of them," Critelli said. "They came out of the car, popped the trunk, put the plates back on the car because there were no plates."
The suspects wound their way through the streets before turning into oncoming traffic on Broadway with police hot on their tail.
Then they swung a right onto Bond Street and collided with a cab, police and witnesses said. The cab driver was taken a hospital as a precaution.
Police arrested three of the four suspects at the scene, and found a gun and the jewelry, cops added. The value of the goods was not immediately known.
Stunned witnesses described seeing the chaotic pursuit end with the suspects fleeing the car and trying to scale nearby fences to escape.
A worker at Blick Art Materials on Bond Street said he saw two men jump a fence into an alley. One was nabbed by police while the other disappeared from view.
“I walked right out here and I saw two guys in the alley,” the worker, Matt, 28, explained. “They tried to jump over the fence. One got over and as soon as he got over, an undercover cop grabbed him and put him in handcuffs.”
The second man managed to climb a brick wall and barbed-wire fence before disappearing as police flooded the area.
“About eight cops came running down the alley and up a ladder on top of the roof,” the employee said. “It was kind of exciting.”