Plaza jewelry store robbed at gunpoint

DM shop loses diamonds

Janetelli Jewelers in the Del Mar Plaza was robbed at gunpoint the afternoon of Jan. 8. This is the latest of several crimes, mostly burglaries, to hit the upscale shopping center in the past six months, other merchants said.

A white male in his 30s entered the jewelry store about 2:30 p.m., held a semiautomatic handgun to the owner's head, and ran away with diamond rings and bracelets worth more than $300,000, said Sgt. Marcos Ramirez with the San Diego County Sheriff's Department.

The suspect is described as being 6' to 6'5", about 200 pounds, clean-shaven, muscular and wearing a blue San Diego Chargers cap.

The incident was recorded on the store's surveillance videotape, and the Sheriff's Department collected fingerprints and DNA evidence from Epazote Oceanview Steakhouse, where the suspect had a beer before making his move.

"With the DNA evidence and fingerprints, there's a good possibility we may find out more information regarding the suspect's identity," Ramirez said.

Rick Birch was the Epazote bartender who served the suspect the day before the robbery. He said he chatted with the man, thinking perhaps he was a professional athlete because of his build.

"He seemed like a cool, normal dude," Birch said.

While this may be the first armed robbery in the area in the past few months, it is not the first crime. Two other jewelry stores in the Plaza were burglarized three times in 2008, several merchants said.

Twenty-four hour security was hired, but at least one shop manager did not think it is enough. Many said they are concerned because property crimes seem to go up when the economy goes down, an impression confirmed by Ramirez.

"It's the nature of the beast," he said.

Property manager Cushman and Wakefield did not return calls for comment by press time.

Anyone with any information is asked to call Crime Stoppers at (888) 580-8477 or the San Diego Sheriff's Department at (760) 565-5200.

   
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