Police in Maryland, Virginia and the District of Columbia are on the lookout for a team of masked jewel thieves that robbed the Cartier store on Wisconsin Avenue in Chevy Chase just after 11 a.m. Tuesday.
Montgomery County police say the bandits smashed the glass of a display case in the rear of the store and made off with expensive merchandise.
They were seen fleeing the area in a late model, black Dodge Charger with conflicting license plates. One was a Virginia tag: JWR459. The other was an Illinois plate: P563888.
Police gave chase, but called off the pursuit as the car sped south on Connecticut Avenue in the District.
A short time later, a D.C. police officer spotted the car in Southeast D.C. After a brief chase, the officer crashed his cruiser into a parked SUV. The officer is hospitalized with what MPD officials call non-life threatening injuries.
Four employees were inside Cartier at the time of the robbery, but none were hurt. Police say the thieves were allowed into the store by one of their own who got buzzed in by not wearing a mask.
Investigators are looking into the possibility the same bandits caught on camera stealing Rolex watches from Colonial Jewelers in downtown Frederick in early February, and seen stealing diamond rings from a Zales jewelry store at Fashion Centre at Pentagon City, and later from a high-end watch store also at the Arlington County mall earlier this year, are the ones who got away with another smash and grab Tuesday morning.
"That's a good part of any complete and thorough investigation," says Montgomery County Police Capt. Paul Starks. "So, detectives will be looking inside Montgomery County and also around the Beltway for like crimes."
Colonial Jewelers owner Patty Hurwitz is now paying for a security officer to stand guard at the front door of her store, and on Thursday, will have a vestibule installed at the front of her store - complete with an extra doorway and a buzzer entry.
"I think until this thing gets busted or until they find out who's involved with this, it's going to keep happening," Hurwitz says. "But I don't think they're going to come back here because it's not going to be too easy to get in here anymore."
In the hours after the robbery at Hurwitz' store, D.C. police arrested a suspect in one of the getaway cars in the same part of the city as the chase-ending crash Tuesday. But that lone arrest has not led to any others.
"We just would have never thought that it would happen," Hurwitz explains. "But it did and so we adjust and we move on. And we don't be defeated by it."
Montgomery County police say there is surveillance video from Tuesday morning's robbery, but detectives are not ready to release it.
Detectives are asking that anyone who has information regarding this robbery and/or the suspects involved (and has not already spoken to police) to contact the Robbery Section at 240-773-5100. Those who wish to remain anonymous may call Crime Solvers of Montgomery County toll-free at 1-866-411-TIPS (8477) or leave a Crime Solvers tip here. Crime Solvers will pay a cash reward of up to $10,000 for information provided to them that leads to an arrest and/or indictment for this felony crime.
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