While organized retail crime has become a growing trend that vexes businesses, what appears to be an old-fashioned five-finger discount recently plagued the mother of all jewelry retailers, Tiffany & Co.
On June 7 at about 3 p.m., a smartly dressed man was captured on surveillance video walking into the flagship Tiffany store on Fifth Avenue, talking to a salesperson, and then exiting the store with two necklaces, reportedly worth about $100,000 total.
The New York City Police Department said the suspect engaged an employee in conversation behind the jewelry counter near a store exit. The surveillance video shows the man walking out the door when the employee turned away from him.
The police said no injuries were reported, and the suspect was wanted for grand larceny.
A spokesman for Tiffany & Co. said the company "is fully cooperating with the authorities, and as this is an ongoing investigation, we cannot comment any further."
Police urge anyone with information to call the NYPD's Crime Stoppers Hotline at 800-577-TIPS, or submit a tip at NYPDCrimeStoppers.com.
The police do not yet know if the suspect was acting alone or if the heist was part of an organized effort.
Thomas Martin, president of Martin Investigative Services, a private and corporate investigation firm headquartered in Newport Beach, Calif., said he wasn't surprised by the Tiffany & Co. theft, given the high-profile charges against Lindsay Lohan. The actress pleaded no contest to a misdemeanor charge of taking a $2,500 necklace from a jewelry store in Los Angeles in May 2011.
Martin said basic security comes down to worker training.
"It's pretty much common sense that you shouldn't let out two or three items in the case at the same time," Martin said. "It's all about employee training. Why go in with a gun when you can just walk in with your hand?"
A survey by the National Retail Federation found eight of 10 retailers said that organized retail crime activity had increased in the past three years. The federation said groups target department and specialty stores for such items as designer clothing, handbags, lingerie and accessories, which they can sell for near-retail prices.
Last December, three thieves smashed the windows of a Jimmy Choo store in Chicago, which sells luxury women's shoes. The thieves got away with an unknown amount of shoes and handbags in a four-door vehicle. The Jimmy Choo theft is still under investigation, according to the Chicago Police Department.