Last week’s jewelry theft in downtown Los Altos may be connected to similar crimes in other California cities over the past 16 months, but police continue to investigate before drawing any conclusions.
The Nov. 29 robbery of two jewelry distributors outside Garvani Diamond Brokers on First Street resembles recent crimes in Burlingame, South San Francisco and the Los Angeles area. Los Altos Police Capt. Andy Galea said his department is collaborating with agencies in those areas to determine if the incidents are linked.
Like the other robberies, last week’s heist “was sophisticated and well orchestrated,” Los Altos Police Chief Tuck Younis said. “Obviously, these victims were specific targets.”
Two New York-based distributors were robbed moments after leaving Garvani – located at 300 First St., near Draeger’s Market – at approximately 6 p.m.
Four unknown suspects allegedly wearing ski masks and dark clothing pulled up in a sedan alongside the victims, who were in their car on First Street. One suspect seized an undisclosed amount of jewelry from the backseat, according to Galea.
No weapons were reportedly used or seen, but one of the distributors was struck on the shoulder, Galea said. The victim did not need medical attention.
A similar crime occurred in January outside the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Burlingame, where six men robbed a private jewelry dealer at gunpoint. The suspects were later arrested in Los Angeles and remain in custody, according to police.
Capt. Mike Matteucci of the Burlingame Police Department said that if there is a connection between those six suspects and the four in the Los Altos robbery, it would indicate that they are part of a larger, organized ring.
Scott Bunch of the Los Altos police said Monday the department has no leads but continues to assess witness statements and vet security camera footage from surrounding businesses. Police are withholding witness statements to avoid influencing other accounts.
David Harris, Garvani co-owner, said he called police after the two victims told him what had occurred. Harris said the victims, who had just conducted business with Garvani, chased the suspects on foot as they drove away.
Galea said this type of robbery isn’t uncommon.
“Typically, (the jewelry dealers) will have been either surveilled or (the robbers) will know when they’re scheduled to make a delivery,” he said.
“From what I’ve seen in the past, and talking to other dealers, these (robbers) are very patient,” Harris said. “They follow the (dealer), see when he’s going to be in town, watch the buildings.”
Police urge anyone with information to call 947-2770. Callers may remain anonymous.