Police are searching for a group of about ten people who work together to distract jewelry store clerks while one woman sneaks into the backroom to find loose jewels, the Escondido Police Department (EDP) said Wednesday.
The "sophisticated" group is suspected in at least two burglaries in the Escondido area on Monday and may be connected to several others across San Diego County, EPD said.
In the two separate burglaries on Monday -- at least one caught on camera --the large group of people entered Escondido jewelry stores at the same time.
While the majority of the group worked to distract the store’s clerk, one woman, who in surveillance video appeared to be wearing a sarong and sandals, snuck into the backroom where she searched for loose gold and jewelry, Escondido police said.
The group then left the store in a silver mini-van, possibly a Honda Odyssey, police said.
"These groups are organized, sophisticated and operate in a structured behavior to further their criminal behavior," EPD said.
The group is suspected of stealing thousands of dollars in cash and jewelry, EPD said.
The El Cajon Police Department (ECPD) pointed to a similar burglary in February that occurred at Forever Fine Jewelry. ECPD did not say whether they believe the burglary to be connected to the same group of suspects.
On Feb. 28, a group of five women and two men entered the store at closing time, Forever Fine Jewelry's clerk told NBC 7. The clerk said he was distracted while one woman crawled on her hands and knees to the back room, where she gathered thousands of dollars worth of jewelry before walking out.
Anyone with information on the burglaries was asked to call the EPD at (760) 839-4739, ECPD at (619) 579-3311 or an anonymous tip line at 760-743-TIPS (8477).