Diamonds brazenly stolen from vendor in South City

“Smash and grab” diamond heists may seem like the stuff of the silver screen, but in South San Francisco on Wednesday, they were all too real.

After tailing a jewelry vendor for an undetermined amount of time, four men with bandanas over their noses robbed him yesterday at 9 a.m. as he got into his car at the South Airport Boulevard Travelodge, stealing upward of $500,000 in diamonds.

Three of the suspects approached the victim, a vendor from the New York City area who had traveled to Los Angeles before arriving in San Francisco on Sunday, at his car after waiting for him in the parking lot of the hotel, South City police Sgt. Joni Lee said.

The suspects, in a well-coordinated attack, “smacked out the windows” of the car and punctured a rear tire so the victim could not follow them as one reached in and grabbed the two bags of diamond necklaces and pendants, cell phones and car keys, Lee said.

The fourth suspect waited in a silver, four-door mid-size Chevy or Ford car with a paper license plate that said “Weber” before all four escaped.

The victim, whose name was not released, was not harmed.

Incidents such as yesterday’s theft are not uncommon for jewelry vendors transporting their wares around the country.

Whether the incident was at the hands of a Colombian nationalist ring suspected in past jewelry heists around the area and in Southern California, Lee did not know. But she said it was definitely organized.

“They knew what they wanted — bam, bam, bam — they were gone,” Lee said, noting that the entire incident took 30 seconds.

In August 2001, jewelry couriers in Millbrae were reportedly relieved of a similar amount of jewels at gunpoint outside a Chinese restaurant. Sgt. John Aronis of Millbrae police said it was believed at the time that it was the effort of the unnamed Colombian ring.

South City had another jewelry heist several years ago, Lee said, when a vendor stopped on Grand Avenue and his car was broken into as he stepped away for a moment.

The FBI was contacted by investigators about yesterday’s incident, but South City police were heading up the investigation, FBI Special Agent Larae Quy said.

The victim was doing business all over the Bay Area, from Oakland and San Francisco down to San Jose, South City police said.

Bhuvan Sahney, a sales manager with Shreve & Co. in San Francisco, said the name of the game as a vendor is to blend in with the crowd and avoid looking like a diamond seller.

“If this was random, then this guy has the worst luck in the world,” Sahney said.

dsmith@examiner.com

Bay Area NewsLocal

If you find our journalism valuable and relevant, please consider joining our Examiner membership program.
Find out more at www.sfexaminer.com/join/

Just Posted

Dave Hodges, pastor at Zide Door, the Church of Entheogenic Plants that include marijuana and psilocybin mushrooms, holds some psychedelic mushrooms inside the Oakland church on Friday, July 22, 2021. (Kevin N. Hume/The Examiner)
Psychedelic spirituality: Inside a growing Bay Area religious movement

‘They are guiding us into something ineffable’

A former inmate and a sheriff’s deputy are among the first four members chosen to serve on the newly created Sheriff’s Department Oversight Board. (Kevin N. Hume/The Examiner)
Years after fight club scandal, Sheriff’s oversight board takes shape

‘We want to promote law enforcement best practices’

More than a thousand people gathered in front of the California Capitol building to protest Gov. Gavin Newsom’s stay at home order and demand that the state re-open on May 1, 2020. (Photo by Anne Wernikoff for CalMatters)
Newsom blames ‘right-wing pundits’ for COVID surge

By Emily Hoeven CalMatters Gov. Gavin Newsom on Monday placed the blame… Continue reading

Strong California revenues will allow the state to commit to offering no-cost food to every student. (Amanda Mills/Pixnio)
How California plans to offer free daily meals to 6 million public school students

By Ali Tadayon EdSource With one in every six children facing hunger… Continue reading

Most Read