NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – Two women believed to be part of an international crime ring are accused of hitting at least two jewelry stores in Middle Tennessee.
Investigators believe Andreia Anghel and Marioara Munteanu hit a jewelry store in South Nashville taking off with nearly $20,000 in jewelry before stopping at a store in Cookeville where they got away with nearly $30,000 in product.
The women spent nearly an hour inside both stores, Prince Jewelers on Nolensville Pike and Diamond Impact on Jefferson Avenue, on January 31.
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“They took a large sum, lots of gold chains, bracelets, earrings, rings, sunglasses and watches,” said Chris Shah, Diamond Impact owner.
In both South Nashville and Cookeville, the women spent nearly an hour inside the stores, inquiring about numerous pieces of jewelry, flashing thousands of dollars in cash to the employees, and ultimately leaving a small deposit while vowing to come back to purchase the jewelry.
“They had the cash. We don’t know if it was real currency or fake currency, but when they came to my store, they had $10,000 cash,” Shah explained.
It wasn’t until after the women, who are believed to be from Romania, left that employees realized they had fallen victim to the criminal scheme.
“We trace these gangs across the country and these people have showed up before,” said John Kennedy President of the Jewelers Security Alliance (JSA).
JSA is a nonprofit out of New York that has been tracking Anghel and Munteanu.
“Yea they have, you know been active,” said Kennedy.
JSA has an Intelligence database and works closely with the FBI and local law enforcement agencies, to further the war on jewelry crime.
“It’s rampant, there are gangs all over the country. We see Roma criminals from Romania who travel here and carry out these distraction thefts, they specialize in them,” Kennedy explained.
It’s a crime he says declined during COVID, but now that international travel has opened back up, they are seeing more jewelry theft rings stemming from Romania.
“It’s common that they want to have a lot of product out, they want to create confusion, they want to divert attention of the sales associate away from the product so that someone can conceal it. They often say they are going to come back and buy it at a later date and of course, they never show,” said Kennedy.
JSA says the women are also suspected to have committed crimes in Maryland and Georgia.
The Cookeville Police Department has active warrants for the arrests of Anghel and Munteanu for Theft, a Class C Felony.
Anyone with information of their whereabouts is asked to contact their local police department or crime stoppers at 615-74-CRIME.