Citizen Staff Writer
LAW AND ORDER REPORT
Tucson police are investigating the first theft related to this year’s Tucson Gem, Mineral & Fossil Showcase – before the event has even begun.
The $120,000 value of the amber jewelry taken tops the value of merchandise stolen during last year’s show.
The show starts Saturday, but thieves were busy as early as Sunday morning, when they made off with the load from a California gem dealer’s truck, Sgt. Fabian Pacheco said Friday.
The rental truck was parked overnight Saturday in a lot in the 3600 block of West Placita Del Correcaminos, close to the JW Marriott Starr Pass Resort in the Tucson Mountains, Pacheco said.
The padlock on the truck had been cut and four suitcases packed with amber stones in sterling silver mountings were reported taken.
Pacheco did not know whether the truck was targeted because it was filled with jewelry or how many people were involved in the theft.
“We encourage anyone with high-value jewelry and gemstones to bring the merchandise inside and not leave it in a vehicle overnight,” he said. He advised owners to store high-value items in a safe and not leave valuables unattended in plain view.
Tucson police include extra patrols to cover the gem shows every year. They include bicycle, motorcycle, on-duty, off-duty and undercover officers.
“While they are eyeing the jewelry,” Pacheco said of potential thieves, “we’re eyeing them.”
Tucson police statistics show $111,574 worth of items reported stolen during the 2007 show, with 34 gem-show related incidents.
Most were thefts, he said, with a couple of lost property and fraud cases in the mix. Only one person was arrested in connection with last year’s gem shows.
Police said anyone who notes suspicious or illegal activity at the gem shows should call 911 or contact a nearby officer.