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Stores on alert after smash and grab

By Liu Meng (Global Times)

08:19, June 25, 2012

Jewelry stores in Guang'anmennei Dajie, Xicheng district, are on high alert after a store nearby was allegedly robbed of one kilogram of gold necklaces on Wednesday night.

Three suspects were arrested by police Saturday night, who recovered the stolen jewelry, according to the Beijing Public Security Bureau's microblog Saturday. The case is still under investigation.

Zhongfu Jewelry Store has resumed business after the robbery, the Global Times found Sunday. But glass fragments were still seen at the bottom of a broken counter on the right side of the store, and the counter was covered by newspaper and a piece of new glass.

A staff member, surnamed Huang, who witnessed the crime, was in a room inside the store when the suspects raided the store at around 8 pm on Wednesday. She said that staff usually shut up shop at 8:30 pm.

"A man wearing a helmet rushed in. He waved an axe, threatening me that if I moved a step, he would kill me," she said.

"I was too scared to move, and then he smashed the counter and grabbed the gold necklaces," Huang said.

Huang estimated that the stolen gold necklaces weighed around one kilogram. The price of gold in the store is 395 yuan ($62) per gram.

The store had no security guard prior to the theft, and still does not have one, Huang said, and she has no idea about what measures the store has taken to prevent potential robberies in the future.

They have organized flowers and a silk banner for police as a show of thanks for the quick resolution, she said.

Huang Dongde, the store manager, was unavailable by press time.

By contrast, other stores nearby were on high alert.

At least three security guards were on duty in Caibai Jewelry, Beijing's largest gold jewelry retailer, which is around 10 meters north of Zhongfu Jewelry Store.

Li Zhuangzhuang, a security guard in Caibai, told the Global Times that security measures have been enhanced since the robbery.

"We were called together for an urgent meeting that night and now we must always hold our electric baton, and take shorter bathroom breaks," he said.

An anonymous female staff member in Baoruitong Pawn Shop, near Zhongfu, said that their store had also beefed up security.

"We were told to pay more attention to personal security and in case of a robbery, we should try to call police, if we can do it without threatening our safety," she said.

The Legal Mirror reported Sunday that police had discovered 11 gold necklaces in the house of one of the suspects, surnamed Li.

Police told the newspaper that Li has sophisticated counter-surveillance awareness and the robbery had been well-plotted before being carried out.

For fear that anti-theft devices in the store could be triggered by his smashing the counter, Li put special equipment at the store entrance to prevent the shutter from falling and making his escape impossible, according to police.

After escaping with his haul of necklaces, Li quickly drove away on a motorcycle which was parked outside, and then abandoned it at a residential compound to the west of the store.

To hide from video surveillance, he took off his coat and then walked out of the compound, police told the newspaper.

The other two suspects have also been detained, although no details have been released about them, or their part in the robbery so far.

Jewelry stores have previously been targets for the city's thieves.

A man stole more than 1 million yuan's worth of cash and silver from Wanfeng Jewelry City, Xicheng district, on October 9, 2011, the Beijing Times reported.

The suspect, who was later detained, told police that he hid inside a box and asked a friend to deliver him to the entrance, and then pick him up the next morning with the stolen merchandise.

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