ELLIJAY, Ga. – A nationally known jewelry thief narrowly escaped capture in Gilmer County after trying to sell stolen goods to North Georgia Diamond located in East Ellijay.
Earlier in the day of Saturday, June 2, a man entered The Blue Ridge Diamond Center in Blue Ridge, Georgia. It was there that the master thief was able to pocket a four-carat diamond tennis bracelet.
The owners of The Blue Ridge Diamond Center immediately notified police of the theft, and they also made it known to several area jewelry stores to be on the lookout for the male suspect.
Bill Craig, owner of North Georgia Diamond, described how the thief is able to steal these precious stones despite the added precaution taken by jewelers: “He confuses people and builds their trust and gets them to show him a bunch of different things.”
The suspect then goes on to become comfortable in the stores even sitting down to discuss custom jewelry options. Through sleight of hand, the suspect usually pockets a single valuable item and makes a casual exit from the building.
After stealing the four-carat diamond tennis bracelet, the suspect made his way to North Georgia Diamond in hopes of unloading his prize.
The suspect came into the store asking to sell the tennis bracelet, but staff quickly realized this was the thief from earlier in the day and notified law enforcement.
The staff stalled while police arrived. In the meantime, however, other customers entered the store.
Officer Tommy Long with the East Ellijay Police Department described the events upon arriving at North Georgia Diamond shortly after 2 p.m.: “When I arrived on the scene, I entered the business and observed two males talking with a sales clerk. Another male was to my right.”
While trying to silently verify which male was the suspect, the male to Officer Long’s right received a phone call and stepped out the door.
Craig, owner of North Georgia Diamond, immediately notified Long that the suspect was the male walking out the door.
Like the suspect had vanished into thin air, Long described exiting almost immediately after him: “As I exited the store, the male was nowhere to be found. I looked around all other businesses and beside and under porches but was unable to locate the subject.”
The suspect, having to make an unexpected exit, did leave behind the stolen tennis bracelet and a driver’s license.
The Oregon driver’s license identified him as Richard Laracuente. This name traces back to a number of warrants for theft across the United States. The suspect has also been known to use the name Robert James Allen, which too traces to numerous warrants for theft.
“It’s a pretty serious thing,” Craig said of the thief. “He’s a pro.”
Craig belongs to a group of jewelers who contact each other regularly via social media. It was on this site that Craig found out after leaving his store in Georgia, the suspect robbed a store a couple of states away in the following days.
“He hit a store in Kentucky,” Craig explained, “and those people had seen all the posts about this. They had seen what I posted.”
In Kentucky, the suspect was able to get away with a three-stone diamond ring.
Despite Craig’s warnings, the thief is able to continue his crime spree because, according to Craig, “he’s a very good master of disguise.”
“I warned everybody on the Facebook group,” Craig stated of his actions to try to warn fellow jewelers. “I said he’s going to hit. He’s going to hit again, and sure enough.”
Jewelry stores across the nation are asked to be on the lookout for the suspect and to contact local law enforcement immediately if the suspect enters their premises.
[Featured image: ID left behind by suspect when making his exit from North Georgia Diamond.]
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September marked a special point for one local business owner in Gilmer County.
North Georgia Diamond owner Bill Craig recently attended the Antwerp World Diamond Centre (AWDC), located in Antwerp, Belgium. According to a press release offered North Georgia Diamond, the visit came as a part of Centre’s initiative, “Antwerp Diamond Experience,” to bring jewelers, wholesalers, and manufacturers from major and upcoming markets into contact with and access to the “world’s leading diamond trade center.”
According to the AWDC, 84% of all rough diamonds and 50% of all polished diamonds pass through Antwerp in the World’s 4th largest port, making this not only a historic visit for Craig, but a networking chance to link North Georgia to a hub of the world’s largest diamond market. Craig stated while at the event, he was given a walking tour of Antwerp before engaging in several networking events staged to “bridge the gap” between retailers and the diamond sources. Cutting out several of the “middle-men” in the process presents a reduced price in the diamonds which Craig stated allows him to pass that reduction to our North Georgia area.
Though North Georgia Diamond has not done much in the overseas market beforehand, however, the trip has opened up new relationships and contacts and has already facilitated one shipment which can currently be seen in store.
Craig told FYN that the trip “reignited our passion.” After several years, a type of box mentality had developed, but the trip sparked new fire into Craig’s business. “People are buying differently than ever before,” Craig said as he explained some of the revitalization he felt. New technology and contacts have opened a whole new door in the business including some very innovative ways of design as we look to the future.
It seems visiting the AWDC is just the first step as FYN also got a sneak peek at a brand new system in store. Though details are not yet available, Craig promises to offer a full look into the new possibilities once fully realized in store.
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