SUNRISE, FLA. (WSVN) - Newly released surveillance video shows the man who, police said, was responsible for setting off fireworks outside a jewelry store in Sawgrass Mills Mall, all in order to steal an expensive Rolex watch.
According to Sunrise Police, the initial call about the New Year’s Eve incident came through as a possible active shooter report.
Once detectives began investigating the New Year’s Eve incident and looked at surveillance video of the subject, they realized the fireworks was a distraction so he could swipe the high-end timepiece.
The footage shows the thief staring at Rolex watches at the shopping center’s Zales store. An employee is seen approaching the subject and offering assistance.
The thief, seen wearing a long-sleeve dark shirt with a tiger design and khakis, then engages the sales associate in conversation. “The subject makes conversation with the employee as if he’s going to buy the watch,” said Sunrise Police Officer Luis Fernandez, “and as this is going on, you can tell that the employee is getting more comfortable with the suspect.”
Moments later, he is seen putting on the watch, which is valued at about $11,400.
The subject is then seen using his cellphone while walking around the store. Seconds later, police said, the fireworks went off outside the retailer.
“It sounds like shots fired,” said Fernandez.
The video shows the thief running out of the store while wearing the Rolex. Meanwhile, everyone inside the store is seen taking off in the opposite direction.
Speaking with reporters on Friday, Fernandez said whoever was responsible for Sunday’s incident did not act alone. “It was a combined effort to set up a distraction, and you could almost see it in the video when he’s on his phone, and as that communication goes off, the fireworks are set, and he’s out of the store,” said Fernandez.
The fireworks led to panic among shoppers, some of whom were captured on video posted to social media running out of the mall. The shopping center was reopened shortly after.
Fernandez said they may have surveillance footage of the other people involved in this distraction theft. “We’re still reviewing a massive amount of video, and we think there may be video that shows these persons at either other stores or through the main thoroughfares, through the mall,” he said.
If you have any information on this theft, call Broward County Crime Stoppers at 954-493-TIPS. Remember, you can always remain anonymous, and you may be eligible for a $3,000 reward.
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