Two Tiffany security workers, four others arrested in $1.25 million robbery

September 11, 1994|By New York Times News Service

NEW YORK -- Crediting crucial tips, a stakeout in Harlem and tenacious sleuthing, the police exposed last weekend's $1.25 million Tiffany jewelry robbery as an inside job yesterday and announced the arrests of six men, including a security manager and a guard employed by the fabled Fifth Avenue emporium.

The plot, investigators said, was hatched at a picnic three weeks ago. The security manager and a cousin -- a man with a criminal record -- at first jokingly, and then seriously, discussed a Labor Day weekend midnight heist, the investigators said, with the benefit of information on Tiffany's security system.

Later, detectives said, they enlisted a Tiffany guard; another cousin, as a gunman; and two men to sell loot. And last Sunday night, as the manager called in sick, two gunmen invaded the store with the aid of the confederate guard, bound him and three others with tape, and fled with 300 necklaces, watches and other items encrusted with diamonds and other gems -- and with videotapes of their escapade.

But efforts to sell stolen items worth thousands for fractions of their value led to a series of confidential tips, all focusing on a man named Teddy and a building in Harlem. There, a police stakeout early Friday snared three of the suspects, some carrying loot from Tiffany, and a search yielded an automatic pistol and duct tape used in the holdup, jewelry taken by the robbers and security patches similar to those worn by Tiffany guards.

Then, investigators said, the rest of the mystery quickly unraveled: A guard who had faced guns and threats from the robbers last weekend picked two suspects out of a lineup, the relationship between one suspect and the security manager was uncovered, other suspects made admissions under questioning and the two Tiffany employees were taken into custody.

The arrests were announced late yesterday afternoon by Assistant Chief John J. Hill, commander of Manhattan detectives, at a news conference.

Except for a handful of items found in possession of the suspects, most of the Tiffany jewelry was not recovered, the police said. But Tiffany, the Police Department and even Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani lavishly applauded the team of investigators who cracked the case in less than a week.

"This was a good example of the NYPD's superior detective work, and the people of New York City can be proud of their Police Department," the mayor said at the news conference.

Tiffany, in a brief statement, praised "the swift and thorough" police investigation that solved what it called "this isolated occurrence," the 10th and costliest theft in the company's 157-year history. It also expressed some chagrin that its own employees may have been involved.

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