Three in custody for Porterville jewelry heist

PORTERVILLE, Calif.

It happened Wednesday just after 10:00 in the morning. The store is located at Main Street near Putnam.

The shelves are empty and Luis Jewelers was closed Thursday after the store owner was robbed at gunpoint and tied up before her entire store was wiped out.

Victoria Stark owns the business next door. She says the victim told her exactly what happened just after she opened her doors for business Wednesday. "Once he had her secured in her back room he removed his mask and stocking and put on his dark glasses and they watched him from the video and immediately went in and grabbed all her expensive jewelry."

Porterville Police say the robbers got away with countless valuable items that amount to close to $150 thousand. "The jewelry ran the gamut from rings, diamond rings, to earrings, necklaces, just gold jewelry, silver jewelry, it's pretty much, they cleaned out the jewelry store," said Eric Kroutil.

After the thieves got what they wanted, police say they took the victim's car and hit the road.

Porterville Police found the suspects just three hours after the heist at a motel in Lindsay. They recovered most of the jewelry and even found police scanners the suspects used to monitor the search for them.

Investigators took Daniel Rodriguez into custody. He is a parolee who police believe was the ringleader. They also arrested Basilio Chavez and Betty Zaragoza as accomplices.

Detectives say they have interviewed several witnesses who saw the suspects, but were unaware of the robbery that had just taken place. All three suspects are facing several serious felony charges.

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