Burglars cut a hole in the roof of a Laguna Hills jewelry store and made off with as much as $1 million in merchandise, Orange County sheriff's officials said Thursday.
The burglary occurred sometime between Saturday night and Sunday morning at South Bay Jewelry, which is surrounded by restaurants and stores.
The jewelry store owner and employees have so far calculated that more than 1,000 pieces of jewelry worth from $700,00 to $1 million were taken the store at 24261 Avenida De La Carlota, said Orange County Sheriff's Lt. Jeff Hallock.
The thieves made off with earrings, necklaces, rings and chains but left behind items of lesser value in unlocked cases.
Instead, authorities said, after cutting a hole in the roof and dropping down into the store, they targeted two safes inside a small room at the rear of the business.
Those safes were broken into and the most expensive items were taken, sheriff’s investigators said. Investigators declined to say how the safes were broken into.
Similar crimes have been reported since late 1980s and originated with a group known as the Yugoslavian Albanian Croatian Serbian burglary crew, according to the FBI. A decade ago Riverside County saw a similar series of thefts that targeted jewelers by cutting through the roofs of the stores and then using a torch to cut open the safes.
Detectives are asking anyone with information about the crime to contact them at (949) 425-1900 and anonymous tips can also be given via (855) 847-6227.