Local News

Elaborate burglary nets $225K of jewelry from Fayetteville pawn shop

Posted April 14, 2011 10:44 a.m. EDT
Updated April 14, 2011 6:14 p.m. EDT

— Fayetteville police say at least two people staged an elaborate burglary at pawn shop last month, cutting through the roof and walls of the store and into a concrete vault to steal more than $200,000 in jewelry, cash and electronics.

"You can tell it was well planned," said Shari Groover, general manager of Cross Creek Pawn and Jewelry. "I don't know if they've been casing the place for awhile."

"It would have taken one person or numerous people quite a bit of planning to pull something like this off," the store's operations manager, Ted Baltes, said.

First, police said, someone set off the outside alarm at the store at 7129 Cliffdale Road around 10 p.m. March 29. Officers went to the store but did not see anything out of the ordinary.

"There were no signs of a break-in or anything in the building, so they left," Groover said.

That's when the burglars got to work.

They cut a hole in the ceiling, then entered the building and disabled the alarm system, police said. Next, they cut a hole in a rear wall to bring in jackhammer, then blasted through the 8-inch-thick concrete vault, where the jewelry and cash was stashed.

Around 3:30 a.m. on March 30, an alarm inside the store went off, and a manager responded.

"As he walked in, he could hear someone talking over a walkie-talkie," Groover said.

The burglars left behind that radio but, police said, made off with $225,000 worth of jewelry, $3,500 in cash and $3,000 worth of computer equipment.

Store employees said the store is just about as secure as it could be.

"We have some of the best security here that money can buy," Baltes said. "Minus having 24-hour guards, there's not really much more we can do in this business."

A fence topped with razor wire runs around the property, bars cross the windows, and employees can monitor surveillance cameras from home. Police said there is video footage of the incident, which they haven't released. An intruder's head is covered with a shirt, police said.

Police said this kind of heist is very rare in the Fayetteville area. Groover said detectives compared it to "something out of 'Ocean's Eleven'" – a classic movie about three simultaneous heists of Las Vegas casinos.

Groover said she wonders if a former worker might be involved or someone else familiar with the store who knew exactly where to go for the jewelry. She gave a list of repairmen and other people who have worked in the building to detectives.

"It's kind of a little eerie, honestly," she said.

The store is offering a "substantial" reward for information that solves the case, she said.