Police say man arrested after Merced jewelry store burglaries

MERCED, Calif.

Police have since arrested one man believed to have broken into one of those shops.

Business owners at Peraino's Jewelers in Merced spent the day cleaning the mess left by a burglar Monday morning. Investigators believe the suspect threw a heavy item against the window to break into the store.

Once inside, the burglary suspect smashed two display cases and made off with a handful of watches. A picture of the suspect was taken from surveillance video.

Hours after the heist, police arrested 26-year-old Ronnie Chestnut as he tried to run away from officers. "[Officers] went back to a room where they were staying at. We did a probation search on the room and we were able to locate stolen property from the Peraino jewelry store," said Lt. Tom Trindad with the Merced Police Department.

Police arrested Chestnut for burglary and possession of stolen property. But before the arrest, someone broke into Judd's Jewelers on Canal Street. Police believe the suspect used a flower pot to break the window and go inside. At this point, police do not know if Chestnut is also responsible for the break in at Judd's jewelry.

"We can only speculate that he was probably responsible for the other one but we have no direct evidence to connect him with the second one. The first one we definitely have some evidence to show that he may have been a party to the crime," said Trindad.

Other jewelry stores in the area have stepped up security to avoid falling victim. "We've ended up having to replace all the windows with laminate glass in order to prevent people from coming in," said Corey Miller. Miller owns Leighton's Jewelers located around the corner from Judd's.

Just 2 months ago, a would-be thief tried to break in by throwing a brick against the riot glass. "People are doing a lot of buying cash for gold. And that's giving more exposure to jewelers as inviting that element into the store," said Miller.

Judd's jewelry store owner says he will replace his window with laminate glass and he hopes that will keep his store from getting hit again.

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