Palm Desert, CA -- In a scene right out of "The Pink Panther" or "The Thomas Crown Affair," a jewelry heist played out in the early hours of June 3 at the Westfield Palm Desert mall.
A burglar, dressed in a ninja-type outfit of black pants, shirt and head covering slipped through the roof of the mall - at 72-840 Highway 111 in Palm Desert - and entered jeweler Expert Repairs through an opening near the floor of its location on the second level near Macy's.
The repair shop also carries a large selection of watches and jewelry displayed in cases around the store.
A store surveillance tape shows a person on his or her back struggling to get through the opening. Then, the person appears to spray something on the tiled floor to make it easier to slide in. It takes the burglar a couple of minutes to shimmy through the small opening.
Joseph Grzetic, owner of Expert Repairs, said the burglary occurred between the hours of 2:30 and 4:30 a.m. on June 2, but police reports said the burglary took place on June 3.
He said the burglar entered through an air conditioning unit on the roof of the mall.
"The store was cleared completely out," Grzetic told The Desert Sun on Monday. "He took two hours to clean my store out ... I used to have a jewelry store, now I have a shop."
Four cases - containing close to 400 pieces of jewelry - were cleaned out. The pieces included gold and diamond rings, earrings and bracelets. He declined to reveal the value of the stolen jewelry.
Palm Desert officers responded to a report of a burglary at 9:13 a.m. on June 3.
"The investigation revealed that during the early morning hours, a male, wearing all black, gained access into the business through the roof," said Cpl. Angel Ramos, Riverside County Sheriff's Department spokesman. "The suspect exited the business, through the roof access, with an undisclosed amount of items. The case is being investigated and no further information is available at this time."
On Monday, a long row of empty display cases sat on one side of the room, while on the other side Grzetic busily helped customers there to get clocks and other items serviced.
Written By: Denise Goolsby, The Desert Sun