Robbers bust through wall of jewelry store

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ST. THOMAS - A gaping hole in the cement wall - that is what V.I. Police found when they responded to an alarm at Gems and Gold Corner jewelry store early Wednesday morning.

Police responded to the burglary just after 3 a.m. after the small store's alarm system alerted dispatchers of the break-in, V.I. Police Department spokeswoman Melody Rames said in a prepared statement Wednesday.

Police are reviewing surveillance video from the nearby area, according to Chris Kanusing, owner of the store, commonly known as Gold Corner. Kanusing said police also found a hammer and crowbar in the store. Kanusing said that at least two people are seen on the surveillance video.

No other people were in the store at the time of the burglary, Kanusing said.

"It gives you second thoughts on just being in business anymore," Kanusing said.

Police found a patch in the wall - about two feet high, and two feet wide - that appeared to have been busted open from the alley behind the shop, which is located on the waterfront near Drake's Passage.

The roughly circular hole - big enough for a person to crawl through - allowed the robbers access to "thousands of dollars" worth of jewelry, most of it gold.

"There were chains, bracelets, pendants," Kanusing said, looking at the two window shelves that were emptied during the heist.

In the past three years, the 34-year-old business has been robbed five times, two of which were armed robberies, Kanusing said. Three years ago, the business never had been burglarized before, he said.

Kanusing, like many of the local jewelers, attributes the theft to the cash-for-gold industry in the territory.

V.I. Police officials in the past have admitted that the expansion of cash-for-gold businesses is allowing thieves to benefit from the goods that they steal.

"What they're stealing is worth thousands of dollars. They're getting it for hundreds," Kanusing said.

Neither St. Thomas-St. John Police Chief Darren Foy nor V.I. Police Commissioner Rodney Querrard Sr. could be reached Wednesday to comment about how the theft of gold was tied to the cash-for-gold industry in the territory.

Just in the past year, there have been a rash of thefts of jewelry stores, some of them armed robberies.

Gold Corner was robbed twice before; Seven Wonders was robbed twice and has since gone out of business; Goldland was robbed and the owner assaulted; Majestic Jewelers in Havensight was robbed.

Most recently, in late March, Imperial Jewelers was the scene of an armed robbery.

Police arrested four men who now are facing federal charges in connection with the Imperial robbery.

- Contact Jenny Kane at 714-9102 or email

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