NEWPORT BEACH : 4th Suspect Hunted in Big Jewel Thefts

Federal and local law enforcement authorities in four states are on the lookout for a fourth man suspected of being involved in a nationwide string of violent jewelry store robberies, including two posh jewelers at Fashion Island shopping complex.

Robert G. Siegel, 54, of Franklin, Ill., is believed to be in hiding somewhere in Illinois and may be armed and dangerous, Newport Beach Police Sgt. Richard T. Long said.

"He certainly should be approached with caution," Long said.

A warrant for Siegel's arrest was issued over the weekend, Long said. An additional warrant was issued by the FBI requesting that Siegel be held without bail.

Police said Siegel is suspected of being one of an organized group of jewelry store thieves believed to be responsible for the October, 1989, robbery of Carol Klein Fine Jewelry and the March heist of Moboco Fine Jewelry and Gems, both in Newport Beach. Siegel was connected with the alleged ring by photographs taken by undercover police in the last week of August, Long said.

Three other men were arrested Aug. 30 after a surveillance effort that included more than 50 law enforcement authorities.

Walter Frank Zischke, 46, and John R. Evans, 52, both of Cicero, Ill., and Maichael Rabb, 47, of Lake Worth, Fla., were taken into custody as they allegedly tried to flee the state, Long said. The three are being held in Orange County Jail on $10-million bail each and are scheduled to be arraigned Sept. 14.

"It's very clear . . . this was a well-planned organization," Long said. "They are very violent and dangerous men."

The investigation began immediately after the Carol Klein Fine Jewelry holdup, during which the robbers stole $6 million in merchandise.

Wearing Halloween masks and bullet-proof vests and carrying automatic weapons, the thieves dumped millions of dollars in fine jewelry into trash cans.

At Moboco's, the thieves made off with $3 million in jewelry.

Inquiries to other police departments turned up evidence that similar-style thefts occurred in Oklahoma and Florida. A strikingly similar jewelry store heist occurred, for instance, in Tulsa a month after Carol Klein was robbed.

Police estimate that more than $15 million was taken from various jewelry stores in the four states.

A major break in the case came after Newport Beach Police Chief Arb Campbell invited local jewelry store owners to participate in a series of training sessions that taught them how to spot potential jewel thieves, Long said.

After the sessions an unidentified jewelry store owner spotted a suspicious-looking man who drove off in a black Cadillac. The car was later identified as belonging to Rabb, Long said.

The night before Moboco was hit, Newport Beach police were staked out at a variety of jewelry stores that requested protection. Moboco did not call to ask for protection, Long said.

Police say members of the alleged ring returned periodically to Southern California to stake out jewelry stores, often staying at the Airporter Inn near John Wayne Airport.

In August, informants told detectives David Byington, Michael McDermott and FBI agent Manny Martinez that the suspects had returned to California and were casing stores, Long said.

For the next week, the four men and a fifth unidentified man were tailed from San Diego to Hollyood to Palm Springs. Everywhere they went, Long said, they allegedly stopped to check out jewelry stores, take note of exits and study alarms systems.

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