Heist at Center City jewelry shop like ‘part of a movie,’ owner says – Philly.com
NOTHING WAS going to stop these thieves.
Not a locked basement door, not two solid walls, not even an industrial-grade safe.
They wanted the goods, and they got them Wednesday night, cleaning out about $250,000 worth of diamonds and fine jewelry from Time & Gold, a shop in the heart of Center City.
“I couldn’t believe it; it was like part of a movie,” Danny Hosmi, the store’s owner, told the Daily News hours later on the sidewalk outside his ruined business, on 19th Street near Chestnut.
But unlike the smarmy gentlemen bandits seen in “Ocean’s Eleven,” the punks who barreled their way through two adjacent stores to get to Hosmi’s safe weren’t robbing a casino flush with cash. Instead, they ripped off a man who built his business from the ground up and spends most of his waking hours trying to keep it going.
“It’s just craziness,” Hosmi said. “Who goes underground? It’s not like they’re taking $50 million: They got, what, a quarter-million from me?”
Even the detectives who flooded the block yesterday told Hosmi they were stunned by the lengths the bandits took, he said.
Police yesterday said it was unclear precisely when the thieves had hit the jewelry store. Hosmi discovered the damage about 9:30 a.m. and called police immediately.
According to him, the heist began at the now-defunct Burger.org, a kosher joint that closed a few months ago.
Somehow, the thieves broke into that store’s basement and made their way to the first floor, where they punched through a wall that the vacant storefront shares with Four Seasons Cleaners, Young Kim’s dry-cleaning business.
From there, the crew walked to the opposite wall and repeated the process, busting another hole, which led to Time & Gold. They reached through, cracked the nearby safe and left without tripping a single alarm, Hosmi said.
On their way out, they ripped out the cash register inside Four Seasons, which Kim said contained about $100 in change.
“I don’t know who did this, but they knew what they were doing,” Kim, 53, said yesterday. “Today is just crazy; I think I’ll be more angry tomorrow.
When Kim opened his store at 7:30 yesterday morning, he thought the ceiling had caved in: Cracked drywall was everywhere.
Then he saw the gaping crater in his wall, and its counterpart on the other side of the store.
Kim and his wife spent most of yesterday cleaning up the broken drywall and dusting off their customers’ clothes, which he said they’ll have to rewash.
It was the first time in seven years on 19th Street that he’d been robbed, let alone in such a dramatic manner.
Hosmi, visibly weary, said as much yesterday.
“Look where you are,” he said, gesturing to the commercial corridor surrounding his business. “This is the safest neighborhood ever.”
There’s an ice-cream shop next door, a family run beauty salon beside it. At the end of the block, above the former Burger.org, sits Aldine, a swanky, second-floor restaurant with a menu that touts “Tasmanian sea trout” and “squash tartine.”
“I thought I was coming to a better location,” said Hosmi, 48, who moved his store from Broad Street and Girard Avenue in North Philly 1 1/2 years ago. “It shows you how much I know.”
An eerily similar incident happened a year ago at a shop operated by his friend on Market Street, he said. Same MO: The thieves busted through a wall and ran off without an alarm sounding, Hosmi said.
“It’s not human to do something like this, to do that to someone who works their whole life.”
Hosmi has been in Philly 27 years, 15 of which have been spent selling jewelry.
He wasn’t sure yesterday what his next move will be. Some of the pieces of jewelry taken in the heist were still being paid off, he said. Still, he planned to open his store today and continue cleaning up. It’ll help calm him down, temper his frustration.
“If you know who did this,” he said of the robbers, “let them know I want to hunt them down and cut their fingers off.”
Police had no description of the thieves. Tipsters can call 215-686-8477.
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