Jewelry thieves target vulnerable residents

During the month of February, the Riverside County Sheriff’s Office has seen an increase in jewelry thefts with similar circumstances, according to Sgt. David Aldrich of the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department.

In most cases, vehicles occupied by at least two subjects, will approach patrons in public parking lots and either ask for directions or attempt to sell jewelry.

When the patron approaches the vehicle, the occupants will use sleight of hand techniques to remove the unsuspecting victim’s jewelry, typically leaving behind fake jewelry. If the victims resist, or fight back, force is used to remove the jewelry.

On Tuesday, Feb. 21, two people were arrested on suspicion of stealing jewelry from an 87-year-old woman in La Quinta, authorities said Tuesday.

Deputies from the Thermal sheriff’s station responded about 11:40 a.m. Monday to the 79700 block of Highway 111 in La Quinta to a report of the robbery, according to Aldrich of the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department.

“The victim was sitting in her vehicle waiting for her husband to exit the store when a Romanian female approached her vehicle, opened her door, and removed her ring and necklace,” Aldrich said in a statement. “There was a brief struggle during the robbery, and the victim sustained minor injuries.”

The elderly woman declined medical treatment, according to Aldrich.

A sheriff’s Special Investigations Unit assumed the investigation and subsequently found the suspect vehicle in Murrieta, according to Aldrich. A search warrant was served for the vehicle, where the elderly woman’s jewelry allegedly was found.

The suspects, identified only as a 38-year-old woman and a 39-year-old man, were arrested and booked into the John J. Benoit Detention Center in Indio on suspicion of robbery and elder abuse, Aldrich said.

Anyone with additional information on the incident was asked to call Investigator Glasper from the Thermal sheriff’s station at 760-863-8950 or Valley Crime Stoppers anonymously at 760-341-7867 (STOP).

The Riverside County Sheriff’s Office is asking the public to stay vigilant and report suspicious activity.

If you wish to remain anonymous, call Valley Crimestoppers at (760) 341–7867.

Image Sources

  • Stolen jewelry: Shutterstock