Originally created 09/29/05

Thieves take jewelry from store vendors



Three men broke into a sport utility vehicle and overpowered a jewelry vendor Wednesday morning, making off with at least $800,000 in jewelry, Richmond County sheriff's deputies said.

Officers got the call outside Windsor Jewelers on Washington Road at 9:35 a.m., Investigator Blaise Dresser said.

While one jewelry vendor went inside to get a security officer, another remained inside a Buick Rendezvous with a duffel bag full of rings, Investigator Dresser said.

He said the vehicle was approached by three men, who broke out the driver's window and a rear passenger window.

The occupant was pushed down, and the robbers took the bag out of a back seat and the Buick's keys before fleeing in a tan or gold-colored sedan.

Jewelry heists in the Augusta area are nothing new.

In 1999, three armed men outside the former Rich's at Augusta Mall robbed two employees at gunpoint of jewelry, worth $207,000 wholesale.

In July 2001, thieves stole $40,000 in jewelry from a salesman's vehicle while he ate inside a Martinez restaurant, and four men robbed a jeweler at gunpoint at a Columbia County rest area.

That September, a dealer who stopped at Windsor Jewelers before driving to Lexington, S.C., was robbed of $300,000 in jewelry.

In May 2004, authorities charged Arleatha Darity, of Martinez, with 335 counts of theft by taking of jewelry from Friedman's Jewelers in Evans, where she was a manager before being fired. Also arrested was Brian Adrian Gilchrist, of McCormick.

Reach Jeremy Craig at (706) 823-3409 or jeremy.craig@augustachronicle.com.