$1M Puyallup jewelery store heist sounds like a Hollywood plot

Jun 4, 2014, 5:46 AM | Updated: 2:17 pm
The jewelery store Gold Definitions buys gold, in addition to selling jewelery and offering other j...
The jewelery store Gold Definitions buys gold, in addition to selling jewelery and offering other jewelery related services. Burglars made out with $1 million in items from their safe Sunday night. (AP Photo/File)
(AP Photo/File)

It’s the kind of heist you might think only Hollywood writers could dream up: A sophisticated crew of burglars cut through walls of a nearby business to make off with a million dollars in gold.

But it happened for real in Puyallup.

The owners of Gold Definitions on South Meridian couldn’t believe what they found when they arrived at work Monday.

Their safe was empty, cleaned out from the back. A hole into the business next door was staring them in the face.

Captain Scott Engle with Puyallup Police said a crew of at least four burglars began their heist early Sunday morning by climbing onto a roof.

“They appeared to have gotten up on the roof of a business to the south of the (the jewelery store) and cut a large hole in the roof, and scaled down the business,” Engle said.

They used a flexible camera scope you see in the movies to “look through the walls” to find the safe. They then climbed back on the roof and cut a hole in the business on the other side of the jewelry store and busted out the wall behind the safe.

“They began sawing through the wall, the steel plate, the concrete, the rebar, and the reinforcements in the back of the safe where they made a small square hole – large enough for them to reach through with their arms,” explained Engle. “And they began cleaning out the safe.”

The burglars didn’t set off any alarms. They were never seen on surveillance video inside the store, other than that small camera poking through one of the walls.

According to Engle, these burglars were professional.

“They would have had to use power saws which would have required cooling for the saws that cut through the steel, the concrete and the metal, to get to the safe,” he said. “They knew what they were doing. They were very determined in what they did.”

And they took their time. They spent four hours on this job, but Engle said they also put in more than that planning it.

“The sophistication would lead us to believe that they had done some homework. They probably knew the patterns of cleaning crews in the area, probably knew the pattern of parking lot sweepers and things like that,” Engle said. “Certainly, we believe they were using walkie-talkie type devices, which lead us to believe that they had scouts and spotters on the outside.”

A surveillance camera from a block away only captured glimpses of shadowy figures and a truck. That’s all the police have.

The score in this heist: a million dollars.

“Once they actually gained entry into the safe, they were very selective in what they took, but unfortunately the loss is well over $1 million, both accounting for the store’s loss, and numerous, numerous customers who had items stored in the safe,” said Engle.

There’s a $10,000 CrimeStoppers reward being offered for information about the heist.

And in case you’re wondering, this million-dollar heist isn’t the biggest take in Washington history, not by a long shot.

The infamous “Trench Coat Robbers” hit the Seafirst Bank in Lakewood in 1997, making off with nearly $4.5 million during a takeover robbery at closing time.

Those robbers hit 28 banks over 15 years across the country but were eventually caught when one of them paid $188,000 cash for a log cabin.

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$1M Puyallup jewelery store heist sounds like a Hollywood plot