St. Helena police say they have identified three suspects believed to have been involved in an armed robbery at David’s Jewelers in September 2014.
Police are declining to release the suspects’ names pending further investigation, but say two of the three suspects are already in federal custody on other charges – one in Colorado and one on the East Coast.
“Evidence discovered by St. Helena Police Officer James Hartley during the initial investigation was able to be directly linked to one of the suspects,” the St. Helena Police Department announced Monday in a news release. “Additionally, during his investigation, Officer Hartley located evidence of cell phone use that led him to believe the suspects in this case were linked to jewelry store robberies in other jurisdictions.”
Police say Hartley contacted the FBI and added the robbery to a list of cases being investigated by a regional task force consisting of law enforcement agencies from Chico, Turlock, Roseville, Folsom, Santa Barbara, Denver, Scottsdale and the East Coast, as well as the FBI.
“The robberies in these various jurisdictions have been connected to each other and appear to have been masterminded by a complex criminal organization,” the news release stated. “Officer Hartley’s diligent investigative work allowed the task force to tie these suspects into the St. Helena robbery, and uncovered at least one suspect the task force had not previously identified.”
No charges have been filed yet in connection with the St. Helena robbery. Police say more suspects could be tied to the incident as the investigation continues.
Two black men, one of them holding a gun, entered the downtown jewelry store just before 11:13 a.m. on the morning of Sept. 3, 2014, and ordered the two people inside — jeweler David Clark and one of his employees — to get on the floor. The suspects smashed several display cases and stole between 20 and 25 Rolex watches before leaving the store and driving away in a van that had been parked in a red zone outside. The men were in and out of the store in about 30 seconds.
Police eventually found the van abandoned on Pine Street, but never sighted the suspects, despite a three-hour-long search that included St. Helena and Calistoga police, a K-9 unit from Calistoga, and five CHP units, including a helicopter. Local schools and the St. Helena Public Library were on voluntary lockdown for about an hour during the search.
While responding to the scene in a city owned vehicle equipped with lights and a siren, then-Police Chief Jackie Rubin was involved in a collision at the corner of Main and Adams streets when the driver of an SUV failed to yield to Rubin and the two marked police cars behind her.
Anyone with information about the case should call the St. Helena Police Department at 967-2850 or the FBI’s Sacramento office at 916-481-9110.