LONGWOOD - A jewelry store in Longwood is out nearly half a million dollars after some burglars pulled off a heist that reminded the store owner of "Oceans 11."
Despite the comparisons to a Hollywood movie, however, Albert Pagán says this break-in was very real.
"When you think about how many years it took you and how much is taken and when you’re a small brick and mortar business. Gosh, you know, it’s crushing. It’s decades of hard work," said Pagán.
Pagán owns Certified Jewelry Designs. He sells jewelry, but also repairs and manufactures it. A lot of what the burglars took were pieces he’d made himself.
"It hurts us because we worked so hard for so many years," the store owner said. "They literally scaled this tall building and got through and entered and removed everything in less than four hours. It is just unbelievable."
Pagán said the thieves went through the wall of the business next door and cut small holes near the top to avoid detection by the sensors and surveillance cameras, and then used small cameras to see the layout of the surveillance system to not be detected and to disable the system.
"You sleep good at night knowing you have the type of vault in your business, thinking that no one is going to do this," said Pagán. "You see how thick this metal is, plus multiple plates, plus all of the rebar."
He also suspects whatever cutting tools the thieves used avoided making a high pitch sound that would have set up an alarm. ADT inspected the store's security system after the breaking and reportedly told him it was working – and even came back online after the suspects had left.
Surveillance video shows the burglars walking around outside. One clip caught two of them with bags. In another, one of the thieves, who’d already left, returns just to touch a doorknob and glance at the surveillance camera, then leaves again.
"It’s just shocking, said Pagán. "You think about it and you just want to break down, but I’m not going to do that. I just want to move forward."
Pagán estimated $400,000 worth of jewelry was taken, though he doesn't know the exactly total as an adjuster hasn't done their investigation yet. He has insurance on the building, which should cover the damage, but isn't sure how much will be covered of the losses.
It’ll take a while before his store is back up and running like normal again.
"From here on out, we’re just going to continue, hopefully restock our jewelry. Fortunately, none of our customers’ merchandise or repairs were taken."