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Jewelry thief outwits store staff

2013-12-26 09:12 Global Times Web Editor: Li Yan

A well-dressed man stole a gold bracelet worth about 20,000 yuan ($3,294) Tuesday from a prestigious department store before disappearing into a crowd of Christmas Eve shoppers, local media reported Wednesday.

The theft marked the first time someone has stolen jewelry from the Yong'an Department Store, said an employee surnamed Sun from the store's general office. Sun acknowledged that no one anticipated someone might try to steal from the store because of its long history and its location on Nanjing Road East, one of the city's most popular commercial streets.

Witnesses said the thief got his hands on the 70-gram bracelet by posing as an interested customer, according to a report on the news portal eastday.com.

"The man was formally dressed," Sun told the Global Times. "The two shop assistants who helped him both believed he was a real customer."

Witnesses said the thief was about 30 years old and had an accent from somewhere outside of Shanghai, the report said.

Sun said that he had asked to try on two bracelets before running off with the second one. "We have a rule that assistants have to take back the first piece of jewelry before letting a customer try on a second," she said. "The man ran out of the store as soon as he put on the second bracelet. The assistants were stunned."

A store manager said a security guard was stationed near the jewelry counter, but he was so surprised that he did not raise the alarm, the report said. The counter was about 20 meters away from the store's entrance.

Sun said that one shop assistant chased the thief outside, but lost him in the crowds of shoppers. The thief didn't appear to be carrying weapons.

The store's surveillance cameras spotted the thief entering the store around 5 pm and then again at just past 7 pm, Sun said.

The store remained open Wednesday. Sun said it has tightened up security with the approach of the lunar new year.

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