Three charged with robbing jewelry store

Posted: November 07, 2012

A Philadelphia man who authorities suspect may belong to a ring of jewelry store bandits targeting high-end watches in several states was charged Saturday in a Montgomery County robbery.

Willie Smith, along with two other suspects, was arrested in Phoenixville after a brief car and foot chase. Most of the 12 Rolex and Gucci watches stolen and a hammer used in the robbery were recovered after the trio abandoned a getaway car, said Detective Matt Daywalt of the Limerick Township police.

Smith and Philadelphia residents Amin Shabazz and Brian Sheed, all 21, face robbery and theft-related charges in the heist of about $64,000 worth of watches around 7:48 p.m. from Ultra Diamonds at the Philadelphia Premium Outlets, 18 W. Lightcap Rd. in Limerick.

Smith previously was charged in a Sept. 27 robbery at Jay Roberts Jewelry Store, 515 S. Route 73, Marlton. Roughly $150,000 worth of Breitling watches were stolen by three people during that robbery, said Sgt. Joseph Friel of the Evesham Township police.

The ring may be responsible for similar smash-and-grab robberies in several stores over the last year in Delaware, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey - including $450,000 worth of Breitling and other watches at Jay Roberts on March 10, Friel said.

Authorities believe the watches were sold out of state on the black market.

On Oct. 22, Smith was charged with the Sept. 27 robbery in Evesham. He has not been charged in the earlier Jay Roberts robbery.

Limerick police are investigating possible connections between the weekend heist and similar robberies in Pennsylvania and New Jersey, Daywalt said.

In the heists at Ultra Diamonds and Jay Roberts, the robbers stormed the stores near closing time, smashed the watch glass display, and left within 30 seconds.

In Limerick, pieces of the glass display from Ultra Diamonds were found in the abandoned maroon Buick.

Smith was being held in the Montgomery County prison on $500,000 bail on robbery and related theft charges in the heist at Ultra Diamonds. Shabazz and Sheed each are being held there on $250,000 bail.

Smith's bail in Evesham is $150,000.


Contact Darran Simon at 856-779-3829 or at dsimon@phillynews.com, or follow on Twitter @darransimon.

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