The three hooded and men broke into a West 36th Street jewelry wholesaler at 12:01 a.m. Sunday in what appears to be an inside job, while New York’s 7,000 cops were distracted protecting visitors and residents celebrating the New Year’s Eve events at Times Square, just a few blocks away.
The thieves looted the store of around $6 million in gems and are still at large, police sources said.
Law enforcement sources think the burglars may have had help from an employee who manufactured the safes containing the gems, that someone gave the crooks the combination to the two safes they looted. Cops point surveillance footage showing one of the thieves on a cellphone with someone as he put in the combination to two of the four locked safes found inside a room on the sixth floor.
In this surveillance footage, one of the three robbers, a bearded white male in a hood without a mask, looks straight into the camera
The burglars were caught on video inside Gregg Ruth, a commercial jewelry store known for its rare yellow and pink diamonds.
They came in through a freight entrance to the sixth floor business and then used a hammer and crow bar to break a lock, gaining access to a room containing four safes, sources said. It is believed that the safes were either already open, else the burglars knew the combination.
The gloved suspects removed diamond-encrusted and 18 carat gold bracelets, earrings and necklaces from two of the safes and stuffed the gems into several backpacks, The three thieves then fled down a stairwell in the beige, 16-story office tower that lacks any exterior signage about its sixth-floor tenant.
The burglars came in through a freight entrance, before using a hammer and crow bar to break a lock, gaining access to a room containing four safes
The two unopened safes contained another estimated $7 million in merchandise, sources said. The lock boxes were on loan to the wholesaler, who was in the process of building a more secure vault.The break-in was reported at 3 p.m. Sunday.
The surveillance footage shows one of the three talking on a cell phone while he is opening the safe, perhaps receiving the combination from a fourth person, sources said. “It definitely seems like an inside job,” one of the workers in the building said.
Another person familiar with the building, after watching the footage, agreed that the burglars seemed to be “aware of their surroundings.”
“They would have needed a key [to access the freight entrance] or someone left it open for them” .
Police have asked members of the public who may have information about the burglary to call Crimestoppesr at 1-800-577-8477.