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Inventive thieves make off with up to $1 million in jewels from O.C. store

February 24, 2010 |  4:50 pm

Thieves used drills to cut a hole through the wall of a San Juan Capistrano jewelry store, dismantled the security system and made off with a safe filled with up to $1 million in jewels, the Orange County Sheriff's Department said Wednesday.

Sometime between closing time Tuesday and 8 a.m. Wednesday, thieves broke into the back door of a vacant shop adjacent to Mission Jewelers at 31878 Del Obispo St. and began to drill a hole in the shared wall, said sheriff’s spokesman Jim Amormino.

They abandoned that hole and started a new tunnel in a back room, possibly to avoid being seen by someone through a window, he said. The thieves – there were probably two, given the weight of the 1,000-pound safe, Amormino added – left through the back of the shop, dismantling a metal security door to do so.

“There’s no question it was very well planned,” Amormino said. “They cut all the wires and took a security camera and most of the security surveillance.”

Authorities did, however, manage to obtain some evidence at the scene, as well as surveillance from an unidentified source, he said.

The investigation was continuing.

-- Amina Khan