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Local jewelry store robbery may have been orchestrated by prisoner, records show

HUNTERSVILLE, N.C. — Police are investigating a smash and grab at Carolina Place Mall in Pineville. It’s one of many similar robberies across the area recently, and 9 Investigates has learned more details about one of them.

Cell phone video posted by Instagram account @charlittt.nc shows thieves breaking into glass cases at Reeds Jewelers at Carolina Place around 1:30 p.m. Thursday.

According to the police report, police found broken glass inside the store with blood on it.

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The store’s owner told police he doesn’t know exactly how much was taken.

On Friday, the store was closed with a sign saying they were conducting inventory.

Similar scenes have happened across our area over the last year, including one at Morris Jewelers in Gastonia, Kay Jewelers in Concord, and two break-ins at Fink’s Jewelers at Birkdale Village.

Channel 9′s Hunter Sáenz learned a smash and grab at Fink’s may have been orchestrated by an inmate who is already in prison in Georgia.

According to a criminal complaint, jewelry store employees told investigators a suspicious man had come in one week earlier. The FBI said he was scoping things out before returning and robbing the place with two others.

That information opened this case even more -- a case that’s taken many twists and turns.

Surveillance images captured the moments three suspects smashed their way through the Huntersville store on July 11. Police said they ordered everyone to the ground at gunpoint and used hammers to smash their way through cases.

On Friday, Channel 9 obtained a federal criminal complaint noting $505,000 -- more than half a million dollars -- “worth of high-value watches and loose diamonds” were stolen.

Chris Swecker is the FBI’s former special agent in charge in North Carolina.

“It’s low risk, high gain, get in get out,” he told Hunter Sáenz.

He says these smash and grabs are often orchestrated and at times are part of a larger ring.

“The indication that this is an organized ring is because the FBI is involved at all,” Swecker said.

“This is not a one-person situation,” he added.

Court documents certainly make it seem that way. Investigators pulled Instagram and cellphone messages from one of the suspects, showing he was communicating and planning several jewelry store robberies with Deuntria Lamar Lyons, who’s in a Georgia prison.

In one exchange days before the Birkdale Village robbery, the suspect tells Lyons “we need to wipe these high-end boutiques...”

Lyons is serving six life sentences for planning robberies from inside prison using secret cellphones. Swecker said the FBI won’t just take a scapegoat down, but will build this case out.

“They attack the leadership -- in fact, they attack the entire heart, the hierarchy and try to dig this gang up by the roots,” he said.

The complaint says there is evidence that Deuntria Lyons was on the phone with the suspects 5 minutes before and 5 minutes after that robbery. Investigators pinged multiple phones off cell towers at the time and also were able to track the getaway cars.

(WATCH BELOW: Huntersville jewelry store thieves armed with guns, sledgehammers)

Hunter Sáenz

Hunter Sáenz, wsoctv.com

Hunter is a reporter for Channel 9.