Friday, June 30, 2006

$250,000 Of Jewelry Taken In Car Break-In

A jewelry heist worth thousands happened in Austin. The suspect had no idea what he took.

A quarter of a million dollars worth of jewelry was stolen from famous Austin designers, AnthonyNak.

Because of the jewelry's uniqueness, police have recovered most of it, but some is still missing.

Police have charged and arrested John Anthony Perez for felony theft. In his affidavit, Perez claims he was just going up to a random car on June 7 looking for change. He happened to break into Nak Armstrong's car where he found a bag, ran off with it and had no idea he had just stolen $275,000 worth of jewelry.

Armstrong and Anthony Camargo design jewelry for the rich, the royal and the famous.

"They range anywhere from about eight thousand dollar for these earrings, to a hundred thousand dollars for this bracelet.. these are fifty thousand dollars," jewelry designer Nak Armstrong said.

The tanzanite collection is worth more than $200,000. Armstrong and Camargo thought they had lost the jewelry forever.

"I walked into the garage, saw that the driver's side door was wide open. So, immediately I knew somebody had been in the car and didn't know what I left in the car, so I didn't know exactly what was stolen," Armstrong said.

Armstrong had left an important piece of luggage in the car.

"I had thought I had taken it in. I had taken in the wrong bag," Armstrong said.

The bag Perez found had all of their jewelry in it and more.

"Perez confessed to the theft and said he was looking for some change when he stumbled upon this jewelry," APD Detective Matthew Greer said.

Apparently, he had no idea what is was worth. Police say Perez sold a bracelet to someone, worth $100,000, for a couple hundred bucks.

"There's all diamonds running through here, diamond beads. It's specifically also, the tanzanite stone, that's a very valuable stone," Armstrong said.

The jewelry soon made its way to pawn shops. Because police had distributed pictures of the pieces, most of it has made its way back to its owner.

"Even though it's jewelry, it is just jewelry, I'm more grateful that my partner didn't get injured in case he had been a target or that the dogs didn't get out because they broke through the fence," Camargo said.

However, Armstrong and Camargo are still very grateful to have most of their jewelry back. They don't have it all though. There are still a few pieces out there. Police ask if you've seen them or you know anything to call APD.

Officers still plan on pressing charges against the people who bought the jewelry from Perez and tried to sell it to the pawn shop.