Hunt Two Suspects In Steinway St. Jewel Heist
Queens detectives are searching for two suspects who pulled off a brazen robbery at a Steinway Street jewelry shop on April 13.
The suspects pretended to be customers at Yogi Lala, 30-07 Steinway St. on the evening of April 13, keeping salespeople busy by asking to see an assortment of jewelry, police said. “They kept my salespeople busy,” owner Larry Lakhati said. “And while they were busy pulling jewelry to show these guys, they sliced the silicone around a glass showcase, grabbed six trays of diamond necklaces and were out the door,” Lakhati said.
The thieves got away with jewelry valued at approximately $10,000, Lakhati said.
“This was an incredibly slick, risky robbery, police sources told the Queens Gazette. “These guys got lucky, because everyone in the store was busy working or shopping.”
This was not the first time the high-end jewelry shop was targeted by thieves, police sources said. Six armed thugs burst into the store in the fall of 1990, the sources said. Two suspects armed with Uzi automatic weapons held the storeowner and customers at gunpoint, while they removed more than $150,000 in gems and jewelry from showcases, the sources said. Four other suspects brandishing handguns were perched outside the store, keeping an eye on the street and the doorway.
In a sad epilogue to that heist, Lakhati said when he reached out to his insurer he learned the Canada-based firm had “gone belly-up”, and filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. “They never paid me one cent on that loss,” Lakhati said.
The 450-square-foot store is currently equipped with 13 security cameras and customers must be “buzzed in and out” of the store by salespeople, Lakhati said.
“Nothing would have kept these two guys out of the store, because they pretended to be customers,” police sources said. “They had apparently been there before.”
Police said no one was injured in the April 13 robbery.
Lakhati said he handed over the surveillance tape to detectives at the 114th Precinct Robbery Squad who last week released the video of the suspects through the NYPD Public Information Office.
The first suspect is described as a black male, approximately 50 years old, 6-feet tall and 180 pounds. The second suspect is described as a black male in his 30s, 6-feet-tall and 200 pounds.
If you have any information on the identity or whereabouts of the two suspects, please call the Crime Stoppers Hotline at 1-800-577-TIPS or click on www.nypdcrimestoppers.com.
The Hotline is offering a $2,000 reward to anyone with information leading to the arrest and conviction of the suspects.