There is an old saying that the hand is quicker than the eye. That’s not true, of course, but what is true that our eyes fix on one object at a time. We are therefore susceptible to sleight of hand; practiced hand movements that lead the eyes away from where action is really occurring.
Chicago police say a 67-year-old man who recently stole nearly $160,000 from a jewelry store used sleight of hand to carry out a diamond heist that employees did not notice for days. According to the Chicago Tribune, the man is awaiting extradition from Florida to Illinois to face felony criminal charges.
When he walked into the Jewelers Row store, he said with a thick accent that he was shopping for diamonds for his Russian employer. He was taken to a private room and shown a box of diamonds, each precious stone wrapped in tissue.
According to the Tribune, the suspect took a sheet of paper from his briefcase, and when the salesperson wasn’t looking, covered the box of diamonds while filching two of the stones. He replaced the diamonds – a 2-carat diamond worth $26,339 and a 4-carat diamond worth $132,722 – with empty tissue wrappings.
The newspaper stated that police have not said whether the diamonds have been recovered.
The suspect has been arrested in similar incidents in the past, including three alleged sleight-of-hand jewel thefts in Belgium and one in New York City.
According to a jewelers trade association, distractions are the second leading means of stealing jewels. The most common method: grab and run. That is when someone goes into a store, asks to try on a ring or watch or whatever, and runs off.
Anyone facing a felony charge should decline to speak to investigators or prosecutors before sitting down to discuss the case with an experienced criminal defense attorney.