Chicago man arrested in Pine jewelry theft

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Chicago police on Friday arrested a 30-year-old man wanted in connection with a massive jewelry theft in Pine earlier this year.

Police officers found Oscar Rodriguez, of Chicago, standing in the street blocking traffic in the 2700 block of South Kedzie Avenue around 2:45 a.m. Friday, and a check of his name showed an active warrant for robbery issued from Pennsylvania, according to Chicago police.

Northern Regional police Chief Robert Amann said his department was notified of the arrest at 4:30 a.m. Friday.

Police believe Mr. Rodriguez is one of three men who stole at least $600,000 in jewelry from a salesman in the parking lot of Grafner Brothers Jewelers in the Pine Tree Shoppes the afternoon of May 8.

“It’s just nice to know they actually got somebody,” Richard Lloyd, co-owner of the store on Perry Highway, said Friday.

The jewelry salesman told police three men dressed in black approached him, smashed the back window of his car, stole a black bag of jewels and sped away in another car, police said in a criminal complaint.

One man appeared to have a weapon in his hand, the salesman told police. Officers later searched what they believed was the getaway car and found a black knife inside.

Surveillance video at a nearby CVS, where dogs traced their scents, captured images of the men wearing T-shirts.

The salesman lost his job after the heist because he’d been robbed once before in California and was no longer insurable by his company, Mr. Lloyd said.

He had traveled throughout the country selling jewelry, which he toted in large gym- or duffel-type bags.

“He lost his livelihood. It’s a real shame,” Mr. Lloyd said.

A manager at the company, First Image Design Corp., who did not want to use his full name, confirmed the salesman was no longer with the company and said he had worked there about two years.

The salesman could not be reached.

Mr. Lloyd said salesmen are targeted in these types of thefts because they carry a concentrated supply of jewelry in small cases and are usually working alone.

Still, since May, Grafner Brothers management has taken precautions of its own. It installed a lock on the front door, allowing people in only when first ringing a bell during certain hours. There are cameras inside the store and never just one person on the clock.

“You’ve got valuable things here and there’s bad guys out there,” Mr. Lloyd said.

Mr. Rodriguez is charged with robbery and conspiracy and was scheduled to appear in Central Bond Court Friday. Detectives plan to interview him in the near future, Chief Amann said.

Northern Regional police are working with the FBI on the investigation.

Molly Born:, 412-263-1944 or on Twitter @borntolede. First Published December 27, 2013 12:04 PM


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