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Expensive watches swiped

by Jay Hamburger OF THE RECORD STAFF

In what the police believe is the costliest theft in Park City’s history, seven ritzy watches were swiped from a Main Street jewelry store in late November, a surprising, daytime job in one of the street’s swankiest shops.

Park City Police Department Lt. Rick Ryan says that the thieves left O.C. Tanner, 416 Main St., with the watches, which have a combined retail value of $106,500, a staggering dollar amount for a loss on Main Street.

Ryan says the watches are made by Cartier, the famous jeweler, and are gold and white gold. Some have diamonds, Ryan says. Five of the watches are part of Cartier’s Roadster line, one is a Demoiselle and the other is a Santos Demoiselle. Retail prices range from $5,000 to $33,000.

Ryan reports that the watches were taken between 1 p.m. and 2 p.m. on Nov. 29 and the police were notified at 5:40 p.m. that day. He says that the thieves likely plotted the theft beforehand.

He says that a couple went into the store at about 1 p.m., started talking to a saleswoman and was followed a few minutes later by another couple. Ryan says that the second couple left the store before being helped by a salesperson. Once the second couple left, the first couple quickly stopped talking to the saleswoman and exited, Ryan says.

"It appears they orchestrated this, planned it out, carried it out," Ryan says, adding that the thieves likely cased out the store beforehand.

Ryan says the watches were in a glass case in the front of the store. The case was not locked. The workers at O.C. Tanner did not realize the watches were missing until they called the police at 5:40 p.m., after another customer asked to see the Cartier watches.

"We have a three, four-hour period in there we can’t account for as far as suspects," Ryan says.

Liz Wood, the manager of the store, says that the case is the first documented theft at the store since it opened in 2000. An armed security guard is stationed in the store during business hours and the guard was at the store when the watches were taken, Wood says.

Wood says the first couple claimed to a salesperson that they were in the Persian-rug business. Wood was in the store but did not talk to the couple.

"Nothing tipped us off," she says.

Mike Fierro, a Park City detective investigating, says that the stolen jewelry was listed on a national police database afterward. The Police Department is monitoring eBay, the popular Internet auction house, and a statewide pawn list, Fierro says. Ryan says the police are investigating whether the case is related to thefts at the Tanger Outlet Center.

Ryan acknowledges that the police have little information about the suspects. He says the police are reviewing security tapes from the store but the cameras were not pointed at the watches. No other customers were in the store.

The Police Department collected fingerprints from the display case and Ryan expects that the results will be available within two weeks.

"So far, not a lot," Ryan says while describing the information the police have gleaned about the suspects.

Police Chief Lloyd Evans says the case is "probably the largest retail theft, dollar-wise, we’ve ever seen." Evans says a Main Street art gallery once lost a sculpture worth between $75,000 and $90,000 in a theft and expensive fur coats have been stolen from Main Street stores.

Evans says the police in recent years have conducted more foot patrols on Main Street and the department, at least once a year, meets with Main Street merchants to warn them of thefts, credit-card fraud and counterfeit money.

"Certainly, I think brazen. Someone had to be pretty daring to walk into a store with a security guard present," Evans says.


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