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Feds: 4 charged in $1 million smash-and-grab watch heists

By Dominique Debucquoy-Dodley, CNN
updated 12:24 PM EST, Sun February 16, 2014
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Theft allegedly included $700,000 in Cartier watches
  • Suspects targeted Cartier store in New York City and Borgata Casino in Atlantic City, N.J.
  • A stun-gun was used to subdue employee in a Virginia store, feds say

(CNN) -- Four men are accused of stealing more than $1 million worth of jewelry across three states, including more than $700,000 in Cartier watches, charges that carry decades-long sentences, authorities said Wednesday.

Authorities identified the suspects as Allen Williams, 35, Roberto Grant, 33, Terrell Ratliff, 22, and Tyrone Dehoyos, 35. They are accused of stealing high-end jewelry from locations such as Cartier in New York City, the Borgata Hotel and Casino in Atlantic City, New Jersey, and Schwarzschild's Jewelers in Richmond, Virginia, from July 2013 through January 2014, according to court papers.

The men were charged in federal court with conspiracy to commit robbery in interstate commerce -- a charge that carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison, authorities said. The defendants also face related interstate robbery charges that each carry the same 20-year maximum sentence.

Dehoyos, who was arrested Tuesday, was being held without bail. The other defendants have not appeared in court.

According to authorities, the heists occurred in similar fashion: The robbers allegedly scouted the targeted stores to map the layout. Then, they allegedly "(terrorized) customers and employees by smashing display cases with hammers and stealing high-end timepieces," Preet Bharara, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, said in statement. The robbers escaped in getaway vehicles driven by accomplices.

The robberies sometimes turned violent, according to court documents. On one occasion, the men used a stun-gun to "subdue a female employee" in a Virginia jewelry store before stealing more than $100,000 worth of merchandise.

"They will now face the consequences of their violent shopping spree," Bharara said.

Grant and Williams were arrested on January 30 after FBI and New York Police Department officers caught them wearing Cartier watches that matched those stolen earlier the same day from the Cartier store in Manhattan.

The attorney for Dehoyos did not immediately return CNN's request for comment. It was unclear whether the three other defendants have legal representation as of Wednesday.

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