Dallas police are investigating two big jewelry holdups in hotel parking lots in broad daylight.
The latest armed robbery happened at about 3:30 p.m. Wednesday at the Hilton Anatole on Stemmons Freeway at Market Center. The thieves took $700,000 in gems, a computer and a cellphone from the victim, who worked for German company Wild & Petsch GmbH, according to a police report.
According to its website, the firm cuts and finishes fine gemstones for jewelers and goldsmiths.
The first robbery occurred at about 8 a.m. on Nov. 28 at the Hampton Inn on Composite Drive, just off the Stemmons Freeway at Walnut Hill Lane. Thieves stole about $55,000 in jewelry mountings, along with various personal items from the victim, who is from Hong Kong.
The Anatole is directly across the Stemmons Freeway from the Dallas Market Center.
DMC spokeswoman Margaret Hite said the center includes international jewelry wholesalers but that security determined that the Anatole victim was not a DMC visitor.
Danny Defenbaugh, a retired Dallas FBI special agent in charge, said the FBI typically participates in investigations that involve international or interstate commerce, at least by sharing intelligence information with local police.
Defenbaugh said large jewelry robberies often involve out-of-town thieves who have information about the victim.
"Particularly, there's gangs from South America who actually pick out and target the individual and will follow them a great distance until they see their opportunity, actually the higher percentage of which is in parking lots," he said.
Defenbaugh now works as a private investigator but also provide security advice to companies that deal in international commerce.
"There's certain things you can do to make someone look at you and realize, 'Here's an easy target," he said.
It is not clear if both of the Dallas robberies are related, but Defenbaugh said international jewel thieves may chose to travel when they know more than one target will be in a location.
"Many times, you're going to have a certain type of gang activity -- again, where their intelligence is almost as good as law enforcement's -- many times to where they're going to realize certain shipments are going to be coming in at a certain time. Then they're going to be aware of what to look for in a target," he said.
Dallas police declined comment on the cases Thursday.
Messages left at both hotels were not returned.
A telephone number listed online for a U.S. representative of the German gemstone company was disconnected.