Friday, May 27, 2011

Those Rolex watches were not fake, after all

McAllen - The security picture of the robber is clear enough. It shows a sophisticated, professional jewel thief going to work, pulling on his thick leather gloves and getting ready to hammer the display cases.

It's about 10:20 a.m. on a Friday morning, the sun is shining, and the smash and grab man is clocking in on the job.

When the crew was finished, the four members of the gang ran and jumped in a pickup truck found across the Highway 84 expressway from the Deutsch & Deutsch Jewelery store at La Plaza Mall.

They made a second getaway hours later in the Waco area.

Two San Antonio men suspected of the daring smash and grab daylight robbery of the McAllen jewelry store walked away, released on bond on charges of possession of trademark counterfeit merchandise after convincing a State Trooper the nearly 100 Rolex and other luxury watches in their swag bag were fake.

The trooper stopped them south of town when he noticed they were following another vehicle too closely and driving in the wrong lane of I-35. Taking notice of their nervous demeanor, their evasive answers and guilty affect, he decided to detain them and searched their vehicle further.

As it turns out, the watches were not fake, after all. So far, the FBI has identified about 20 of the expensive items as those looted from the valley store – an estimated $200,000 value - and still counting, as they continue to work to pinpoint the origin of the time pieces by investigating their serial numbers.

The two suspected robbers have vanished. All Marcus Ramirez, 28, and Roland Sanchez, 34, left behind was their bond fee and the recovered loot.

The McAllen police chief and DPS supervisor praised the Highway Patrolman for recovering the merchandise, and hope to charge the two men who were released in Waco with the McAllen robbery and with possession of stolen merchandise in excess of $200,000, a first-degree felony punishable with a prison term of 5-99 years, or life imprisonment and a $10,000 fine.

Authorities have not yet apprehended the other two members of the gang.

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